Pittsburg Man’s Mesothelioma Death Blamed on Asbestos from 9/11 Site

A 52-year-old Pittsburgh man has succumbed to malignant mesothelioma, and the asbestos exposure that caused his disease has been directly linked to his act of heroism immediately following the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack. Nick Ursta was treated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which confirmed his disease’s link to World Trade Center exposure through the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in conjunction with the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Monitoring Agency Expects Rise In 9/11 Mesothelioma Diagnoses

Dr. Michael Crane is medical director of the program, and he believes that Mr. Ursta’s diagnosis of mesothelioma is just the beginning of what will be a trend in lung cancer diagnoses linked to the attacks, as well as identification of more cases of the rare and fatal form of cancer. Up until now most of the cancers that have been seen have been of the skin, but now that nearly 20 years have gone by the respiratory illnesses have begun to appear.

Mr. Ursta’s mesothelioma diagnosis is tracked back to the night of 9/11/2001, when he, his wife and nine other members of White Oak Rescue from Pittsburgh headed to New York City in an ambulance, rescue truck and wheelchair van to help. They were stationed within a block of the devastated area, ad were constantly breathing in asbestos-contaminated dust from the demolished buildings. They were there for three days, with only one face mask to share and with no other type of protection.

Mesothelioma’s Long Latency Means More Time Will Go By Before Trend Becomes Evident

Dr. Crane believes that Mr. Ursta’s mesothelioma is one of the earliest cases following the disaster and that there will be many more in the next few years.  “I hope this will remain occasional and very rare, but we are all concerned about that pathway to lung cancer and mesothelioma. It’s something we must keep an eye on.”

Nick Ursta’s wife Margaret was right by his side at the 9/11 site, breathing in the same asbestos that caused her husband’s mesothelioma, and she says that the fear of being diagnosed herself “feels like a thousand tons sitting on my shoulders.” She plans to be tested soon.

There are many different ways of being exposed to asbestos, and all of them put you at risk of malignant mesothelioma. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with this disease you need help and support, and the compassionate Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net are here to provide it. Contact us today at  1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our Mesothelioma.net 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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