A new report gives gloomy data about the future and present health of firefighters on duty for the September 11 terrorist attacks.
According to a report from the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, roughly 75% of firefighters who responded to the World Trade Centers attack will have long‑term health issues.
One of the notable health conditions is malignant mesothelioma. This cancer is due to airborne asbestos fibers swallowed or inhaled by nearby people. Firefighters responding to the terrorist attacks in New York City were inhaling asbestos at alarming rates. The World Trade Center buildings were filled with hundreds of tons of the substance.
According to the report, 11,300 firefighters and emergency medical responders have a World Trade Center‑related condition. This is out of 15,500 first responders.
A different report in Occupational and Environmental Medicine had similarly grim data. First responders from 9/11 were 15% more likely than other first responders to develop cancer. 9/11 first responders with cancer were also younger on average by four years (age 55 at time of diagnosis versus age 59).
The reports come at the 20‑year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Firefighters and emergency medical responders are dealing with the consequences two decades later.
Malignant mesothelioma takes a lot of time — 20‑50 years — to form in the mesothelial tissue linings. Many firefighters are just now in the time period to experience symptoms of mesothelioma. Some might not learn of their cancer until another decade or two.
Asbestos is a major concern for 9/11 first responders in New York City. The Environmental Protection Agency reported 25% of dust samples tested positive for dangerous levels of asbestos.
In 2019, the first 9/11 first responder died of mesothelioma. The 52‑year‑old Pennsylvania man was a volunteer firefighter. He died of pleural mesothelioma.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act compensates New York City firefighters for health issues stemming from the attacks. The act was passed in 2020.
Sources & Author
- Health Impacts on FNDY Rescue/Recovery Workers 20 Years: 2011 to 2021. FDNY World Trade Center Health Program. Retrieved from: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/fdny/downloads/pdf/about/2021-9-11-20th%20anniversary-wtc-health.pdf. Accessed: 09/09/2021.
- Cancer incidence in World Trade Center-exposed and non-exposed male firefighters, as compared with the US adult male population: 2001–2016. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Retrieved from: https://oem.bmj.com/content/early/2021/08/23/oemed-2021-107570. Accessed: 09/13/2021.