On the morning of September 11, 2001, about 19 years ago, terrorists attacked the United States in what was the biggest and the most devastating terrorist attack ever on US soil. About three thousand people lost their lives on that day alone, but the death toll was to increase in the coming years.
FEATURED IMAGE VIA
WHO WAS AFFECTED?
On that fateful day, the north and south towers collapsed releasing a mass of asbestos and other carcinogenic fumes into the atmosphere. Everyone within an eight-mile radius, including survivors, firefighters, police officers, journalists, clean-up crew and visitors that came to the site inhaled the dangerous fumes. All of these people, including residents of the Lower Manhattan area, have been, and are still at risk of getting respiratory illnesses and some form of other cancers.
Those at ground zero, including survivors, first responders, and firefighters, reported breathing difficulties and some complained about feeling pain in their feet and hands. Doctors determined that their nerves have been seriously damaged causing peripheral neuropathy. These are just a few of the minor problems that have been identified so far. The bad news is that there could be more and worse illnesses in the coming years, including a devastating form of cancer called mesothelioma. Other illnesses are asthma, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a couple of other mental illnesses and chronic lung and stomach ailments among others.
WHAT IS MESOTHELIOMA?
Mesothelioma, is a form of cancer that develops after the victim is exposed to asbestos fumes. Its symptoms include wheezing, persistent cough and shortness of breath. That form of cancer takes about 20 to 30 years to fully develop after a person is exposed to asbestos. It has now been 19 years, so there is still more to come from now.
CONNECTION TO THE ATTACK
The big question is how these ailments, including mesothelioma, are connected to this attack. During the construction of the World Trade Center twin towers, constructors used a lot of asbestos to strengthen the buildings and make them heat resistant.
On that day, about 2,000 tons of asbestos were released into the surrounding air. The air was also polluted with other poisonous fumes including lead, mercury, and benzene. More than 500,000 people were exposed to these dangerous fumes, with the concentration being on the survivors, the rescue workers, and the firefighters. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Christine Todd Whitman said that the air around this area was clean enough after the clean-up process, and that the water was safe, but it turned out that she was wrong. It is for this reason that more and more people have continually been exposed to fumes hence the cancers.
Out of the 500,000 people exposed to the fumes, 10,000 have been diagnosed with some form of 9/11 cancer, including colon, breast, lung, kidney and prostate cancer. The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), established in 2011 has been tracking those exposed to the fumes to assist them to manage their ailments. Out of the 38,000 people registered with this agency, 2,100 have already succumbed to some form of 9/11 disease. Doctors say that this situation is going to get worse with time as the victims grow older.