There is no doubt the horrors of 9/11 did not end that day, that month, or even that year, but have had far-reaching consequences for the first responders and survivors of the bombings as well as for their families. Consider George Rolon who left his job and his life in New York City after barely surviving the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Rolon moved to Florida in an attempt to escape his constant nightmares, with the hope of beginning a new life. Unfortunately, putting the nightmares behind him was not as easy as Rolon hoped. Rolon, along with thousands of others who were engulfed by an asbestos-laden cloud of dust following the 9/11 attacks, not only lives with the horrors of losing friends in the attacks, but with the potential of developing a deadly disease associated with the toxic dust. Nearly 2,000 tons of pulverized asbestos, floated in the New York City air for weeks after 9/11.
It is well known that inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers can lead to serious, even fatal health issues, including mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a tumor of the tissues lining the heart, stomach, lungs and other organs, and is relatively rare, with less than 2000-3,000 cases diagnosed annually in the United States. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer and is considered the most serious of all diseases related to asbestos, which is the primary cause and risk factor associated with mesothelioma. In some cases, it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose mesothelioma as it can present with symptoms which are common to other ailments. There is no cure for mesothelioma, however surgery and chemotherapy may increase the life expectancy of a person diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Twenty Percent Increase in 9/11-Related Cancers
One study of 9/11 first responders showed a nearly 20 percent increase in other types of 9/11-related cancers, however the impact of mesothelioma may not be fully apparent for another decade, or even longer. There is an extremely long latency period in mesothelioma cancers—as long as 11 years or more. Chief of thoracic surgery at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital stated “In 20 years, though, you’ll see a bump in the numbers” (of 9/11 mesothelioma-related cancers). In fact, there are no levels of exposure to asbestos which are considered safe. Most cases of mesothelioma in the United States occur after a person has experienced a lengthy period of exposure to asbestos. The extremely high concentrations of asbestos on 9/11 experienced by thousands, could significantly increase the incidence of mesothelioma among first responders and survivors.
Rash of Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer Cases Expected 20 Years after 9/11
George Rolon was working on the fifth floor of the second tower; many of his friends and acquaintances did not make it out of the upper floors. Rolon, like thousands of others, scrambled to get out of the building, covered in toxic asbestos dust and struggling to breathe. Rolon reached his Jersey City home almost eight hours later, where he went through a detox center. Rolon notes that any time he has a breathing problem of any sort, he immediately worries he has developed an asbestos-related disease from his 9/11 exposure. Dr. Craig Stevens, a mesothelioma specialist, believes it is difficult to know the risk for those exposed to the toxic 9/11 dust, but says “I would expect a rash of mesothelioma and lung cancer cases to begin 20 years after 9/11 and to peak about 40 years after 9/11.”
Reports by the EPA led many New York City residents and first responders to believe there was no danger from the dust which spewed from the Twin Towers. Unfortunately this was simply not true, and many survivors of 9/11 are paying the price for that toxic dust exposure. Those who went through the 9/11 tragedy should consider contacting an experienced New York City 9/11 attorney if they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or suspect they may have the disease. This is an important step in order to receive compensation under the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, or other available funds.
Turley Hansen & Rosasco have been helping victims and first responders of 9/11 who have been diagnosed with cancers and other life-threatening illnesses, such as mesothelioma, get the help they need. Should you have any questions about the Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act or World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.