Even 16 years after the September 11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks, serious health effects are still unfolding for people exposed to the toxins released that day.
New research shows that children who lived in lower Manhattan at the time of the attacks and were exposed to the toxic dust that blanketed the area show increased risk of future heart disease. Toxic dust and smoke lingered over the area for weeks after September 11.
The collapsing towers released a variety of toxins, including asbestos, heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), glass fibers, pulverized concrete, and jet fuel from the planes that crashed into the towers. Some toxins were released as dust; other chemical were emitted when electronic devices and furniture burned during the attacks. Children who were near the World Trade Center site were exposed to much higher levels toxic chemicals than children who were not in the area on 9/11, according to the News.
Increased Heart Risks for Children with 9/11 Exposures
Researchers from NYU Langone Health examined blood test results for 308 children, about half of whom were in contact with the dust on and after 9/11, the New York Daily News reports. Children whose blood contained chemicals known to have been in the 9/11 debris had elevated levels of fats that can lead to blood-vessel blockages and heart attacks.
The new study was published online in the journal Environment International on September 7, 2017.
The attorneys at national law firm Parker Waichman have been involved with 9/11 health issues since the terrorist attacks occurred. Members of the firm worked for the 2010 passage and 2015 reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, the law that provided health screenings, care, and compensation for first responders, rescue and recovery workers, and area residents and survivors.
The lead study investigator, and health epidemiologist Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an associate professor at NYU School of Medicine, said, “Since 9/11, we have focused a lot of attention on the psychological and mental fallout from witnessing the tragedy, but only now are the potential physical consequences of being within the disaster zone itself becoming clear.”
Dr. Trasande says the long-term danger may arise from exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs). These chemicals were released into the air when electronic devices and furniture burned in the twin tower collapse, Science Daily reports. One of these substances, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was widely used to make plastics more flexible. Manufacturers stopped using PFOA however, when they found it was linked to adverse health effects, including low birth weight and brain damage.
Twenty-nine hundred children who lived in Lower Manhattan or attended school there on 9/11 were enrollees in the World Trade Center Health Registry (WTCHR), which tracks their physical and mental health, through annual check-ups. Trasande’s analysis showed that the 123 children in the WTCHR had significantly higher PFOA blood levels than 185 children who were not living or studying in the city on the day of the attack.
Wide Range of 9/11 Health Risks
Researchers have identified more than 50 types of cancer linked to the toxins released when the twin towers fell. Many first responders and rescue and recovery workers developed respiratory, gastrointestinal and other illnesses shortly after 9/11. But many cancers take years to develop and people exposed to the toxic dust and chemicals became ill long after 9/11. The toxic exposure also exacerbated many existing illnesses.
A 2016 study in the Journal of Human Resources reported that women who were in the first trimester of pregnancy on 9/11 had more than double the probability of premature delivery. There was also an increase in the number of low birth weight babies. Low birth weight can contribute to health problems for the child, including a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and elevated blood pressure. One of the researchers involved in that study noted that pregnancy conditions matter “for long-term human development and economic success.”
Pollution affects the placenta, the organ that connects a mother to the fetus and provides blood, oxygen and nutrition to the developing fetus. The greater the maternal exposure to air-borne toxins, the more likely the pregnant women is to suffer from a condition called intrauterine inflammation, which can increase the risk of a number of health problems for the child from the fetal stage well into childhood.
Legal Help for Children Exposed to 9/11 Toxic Dust and Chemicals
If you lived in lower Manhattan at the time of the 9/11 attacks and your child was has health problems linked to 9/11 toxins, your family may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Fill out the online contact form to have an attorney call you at your convenience. Or you can call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).