The toll from the 9/11 terrorist attacks is still growing two decades later, as first responders and survivors continue to be diagnosed with a wide variety of physical and mental health conditions they developed as a direct result of the attacks. One of the main reasons for these continued health issues is the toxic dust that was created by the Twin Towers’ collapse. The dust was filled with millions of tons of pulverized cement, steel, drywall, window glass, and other building materials as well as incinerated computers, electrical cabling, and heating and cooling ducts. Exposure to this toxic dust has since been linked to the development of respiratory and digestive disorders, a wide variety of cancer types, and mental health conditions in the first responders and survivors who were in the surrounding areas during the attack. The World Trade Center Health Program has since been created to help those who have been afflicted by these health conditions.
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What Was the Most Common Health Issue Caused by the 9/11 Attacks?
The most common health condition that has afflicted first responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is chronic rhinosinusitis, an inflammatory disease of the paranasal sinuses. Of the 105,272 people enrolled in the WTC Health Program, this disease affects 28,885 first responders and 5,441 survivors.
The Top 10 Certified Conditions That Have Afflicted the Most WTC Health Program Members
- Chronic Rhinosinusitis: 28,885 responders and 5,441 survivors
- Gastroesophageal Reflux: Disease 23,435 responders and 4,571 survivors
- Asthma: 12,790 responders and 4,526 survivors
- Cancers: 12,262 responders and 6,888 survivors
- Sleep Apnea: 13,456 responders and 1,184 survivors
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): 8,193 responders and 3,254 survivors
- Chronic Respiratory Disorder due to Fumes/Vapors: 7,337 responders and 1,135 survivors
- WTC-Exacerbated Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): 3,139 responders and 728 survivors
- Anxiety Disorder: 2,440 responders and 840 survivors
- Major Depressive Disorder: 2,376 responders and 747 survivors
What Is the Most Common Type of Cancer Diagnosed Among the 9/11 Survivors and First Responders?
The most common type of cancer diagnosed among first responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is non-melanoma skin cancer. This type of cancer has been diagnosed in 4,362 responders and 792 survivors. Prostate cancer is another type of cancer that’s been commonly diagnosed among those enrolled, afflicting 2,752 responders and 1,326 survivors.
The Top 10 Cancers Most Commonly Diagnosed in First Responders and Survivors
- Non-Melanoma Skin: 4,362 responders and 792 survivors
- Prostate: 2,752 responders and 1,326 survivors
- Breast (Female): 321 responders and 1,079 survivors
- Melanoma of Skin: 947 responders and 265 survivors
- Lymphoma: 568 responders and 498 survivors
- Thyroid: 520 responders and 506 survivors
- Lung/Bronchus: 458 responders and 445 survivors
- Kidney: 492 responders and 297 survivors
- Leukemia: 403 responders and 298 survivors
- Colon: 382 responders and 232 survivors
What Does Toxic Dust Consist Of?
The toxic dust consisted of non-fibrous material and construction debris, which contained highly alkaline cement dust as well as glass and other fibers, which can get lodged in the lungs and cause long-term damage. It was partly made up of cellulose from disintegrated paper, which can cause irritation to lungs and can trigger the immune system. One of the most toxic substances found in the dust was asbestos. In the week after the attack, some areas were found to have asbestos levels of more than 1%, which is considered to be a significant risk level. Trace amounts of lead and mercury, potent neurotoxins, were found in the dust as well. Some experts believe that out of all the contaminants, these may have posed the biggest public health risk.
The toxic dust consisted of:
- 50% non-fibrous material and construction debris
- 40% glass and other fibers
- 2% cellulose
- 8% asbestos
- Detectable amounts of lead and mercury
What Is the World Trade Center Health Program?
The World Trade Center Health Program, a part of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, was signed into law in 2011. The WTC Health Program administers medical benefits to individuals whose physical and mental health has been affected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The program benefits cover a long list of health conditions that have afflicted first responders and survivors. Through the Act, medical benefits will be provided to affected individuals through 2090.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a health condition caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, contact us to learn how you can receive compensation through the Zadroga Act.