Respiratory Conditions Linked to WTC Dust Continue to EmergeFeb 27, 2017
The attack on New York City that destroyed and led to the subsequent collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on September 11, 2001 caused an enormous dust cloud. This cloud contained asbestos, heavy metals, such as lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), glass fibers, pulverized concrete, jet fuel from the planes that crashed into the towers, along with other potentially hazardous materials.
The levels of dioxin measured in the air near the smoldering mix "were the highest ambient measurements of dioxin ever recorded anywhere in the world," levels at least 100 times higher than those found downwind of a garbage incinerator, EPA scientists found, according to Scientific American.
WTC Dust Effects
Adverse effects to exposure to the World Trade Center (WTC) dust have been widely documented citing numerous aerodigestive conditions. Aeordigestive relates to organs and tissues of the respiratory tract and the upper part of the digestive tract. This category includes respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and emphysema, which together are classified as obstructive airways disease (OAD); upper respiratory diseases, chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS); and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
In the fifteen plus years since the attack, a group of WTC-exposed workers have suffered chronic inflammation at mucosal surfaces in the nose, sinuses, and lungs, producing CRS reactive airway disease and GERD which may be because of caustic esophageal exposure due to accidental ingestion, according to Frontiers.
Nearly all first responders and other people who helped in the recovery efforts suffered a severe, hacking persistent cough in the aftermath, reports The University of Chicago Magazine. Today, they have health issues such as respiratory disease, sinus problems, GERD, as well as more complicated conditions.
Rescue and Recovery Workers Diagnoses
By 2015, almost 30 percent of Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) WTC rescue and recovery workers had a physician diagnosis of CRS, 28 percent GERD, and 24 percent OAD, reports Frontiers.
High comorbidity (when two disorders or illnesses occur in the same person) rates of WTC-related aerodigestive conditions have been reported. The percentage of WTC rescue and recovery workers diagnosed with all three aerodigestive conditions ranged from about 10 to 30 percent, with clinical grounds for disease co-occurrence remaining unknown. GERD may trigger lower or upper respiratory diseases or increase the severity of persistent airway irritation.
In addition, OAD or CRS may cause or amplify GERD through cough, postnasal drip, mucous, drug effects (theophylline, corticosteroids), or shared neurological pathways, reports Frontiers.
It has been previously reported that FDNY WTC rescue and recovery workers were more frequently diagnosed with OAD than CRS in the years and months following the exposure, but that over time, CRS diagnoses increased. Comparatively, about six years after WTC dust exposure, GERD diagnoses, which had the lowest immediate post-9/11 occurrence of these aeordigestive conditions, started to increase.
The combined effects of upper and lower airways disease and GERD have resulted in persistent adverse symptoms, which continue to have a negative impact on the quality of life. Research and study findings support ongoing medical monitoring of WTC-exposed individuals as well as long-term monitoring and treatment for any possible future catastrophic events, Frontiers reports.
9/11-Related Cancer Cases
More than 50 types of cancer linked to the toxins released when the towers fell, have been identified by medical researchers. In August 2016, the WTC Health Program reported that more than 5,400 September 11 first responders and individuals who lived, worked, or attended school near Ground Zero had developed 9/11-related cancers. The cancer numbers tripled in the two and a half years from January 2014 to June 2016.
Until December 19, fumes were released from a smoldering Ground Zero. Researchers collected air samples including a researcher from the American Chemical Society, who said, the debris pile, "acted like a chemical factory...[it] cooked together the components of the buildings and their contents, including enormous numbers of computers, and gave off gases of toxic metals, acids and organics," Scientific American reported.
In a study published in Current Opinions in Pulmonary Medicine, it was said it was "too early to ascertain long-term effects of WTC dust exposure," but studies already demonstrated a "definite link between exposure to WTC-derived airborne pollutants and respiratory disease." Research since then has only strengthened that connection.
Legal Help for Health Effects Related to Ground Zero
If you or someone you know have been experiencing health issues related to 9/11, you may have valuable legal rights. The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP provide free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).