Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Diseases Rising in 9/11 Responders

Days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an Australian research team reported a significant increase in leukemia diagnoses, as well as an increase in asbestos-related lung conditions like malignant mesothelioma, in general responders and firefighters enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program. The study confirmed fears about asbestos contamination at the site and the effects that have yet to be seen.

Long Latency Means Decades Go By Before Malignant Mesothelioma is Detected

The researchers from the Edith Cowan University School of Medical and Health Sciences in Perth, Australia found that the most prevalent cancer diagnosed in those enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program is leukemia, with a 175 percent increase in cases since 2016, but also pointed out that the first mesothelioma death was

reported 18 years after the accident, and that it is likely that many more will arise in the next few decades. he rare form of cancer has a long latency period, and generally does not begin to manifest symptoms until twenty to fifty years after exposure.

Though asthma is the condition that has been diagnosed the most among the program’s participants, researcher Erin Smith said that mesothelioma is likely to be diagnosed with greater frequency in the years to come. “This long-running threat is finally coming to fruition. Eighteen years after Manhattan was engulfed in the asbestos-laced, toxic cloud of dust, the first death from mesothelioma among 9/11 responders was recorded. I’m sure there will be more.”

Tons of Asbestos in Towers Created Mesothelioma Risk

Benzene from the doomed jets is thought to be causing the uptick in leukemia in 9/11 responders, but there’s no mystery as what’s behind the mesothelioma diagnoses. The twin towers were built using more than 2,000 tons of asbestos, and more than 400,000 people were exposed to the dust created when they fell. Though the EPA originally announced that the site posed no health risks, that statement was contradicted two years later, and those who heroically responded to the need for help at the site are now seeing the consequences of the contaminants to which they were exposed. The study concludes, “Those who ran into the burning buildings that day, who climbed over, under and through the still-smoldering rubble while breathing in toxic dust for months, continue to pay a heavy price for their bravery.”

If you or someone you love has been sickened following exposure to asbestos, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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