In an highly anticipated announcement on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said that first responders, emergency workers, volunteers and residents who worked in or lived around the smoldering wreckage will now be able to receive treatment for diseases contracted from exposure to the toxic wreckage.
For years, many first responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks claimed that exposure to the toxic material, which included asbestos, lead, mold, jet fuel, diesel, heating oil, pesticides and cement particles caused them to develop serious, oftentimes life-threatening medical conditions.
Essentially, everything that comprised of either the buildings or aircraft were virtually pulverized, leading to an exceptional amount of solid materials becoming airborne. This such transformation created a toxic dust cloud that was breathed in by first responders, area residents and other survivors.
Many of the toxins released into the air when the aircraft slammed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon are known carcinogens – such as asbestos – and also have a well-documented link to certain diseases. Exposure to asbestos is linked to later development of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the delicate lining or pleura of the lungs, heart or abdominal cavity.
For victims and their loved ones, adding cancer to the Zagroda Act is a long awaited victory. Lung, colorectal, breast, bladder, leukemias and melanoma cancers will now be covered by the Zagroda Act. Further, all childhood cancers resulting from the 9/11 attacks will be covered by the Act.
The reason why many types of cancers were not initially included in the Zagroda Act was that the time difference between the exposure to the toxic dust cloud generated during 9/11 to the time the first symptoms of cancer may appear can take many years. However, the 9/11 cancer link is officially acknowledged by the federal government.
According to a Reuters report, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have resulted in nearly 1,000 deaths related to the wreckage.