Resources for Patients and their Families

Disco Queen Believed Toxic 9/11 Dust Made Her Sick

Pat Guth contributes news and insightful content for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Patricia Guth

May 21, 2012

New York, New York - After a long battle with lung cancer, the proclaimed Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, died last week at the age of 63 at her home in Florida.

Summer, a non-smoker, believed that the fact she lived in Manhattan during the 9/11 attacks and was exposed to the toxic debris that rained down on the city that day and for days afterward contributed to her demise.

The hazardous dust, filled with building materials like asbestos and concrete and other toxins such as lead, mercury, PCBs, and more, has been deemed responsible thus far for the death of about 1,000 individuals who were in Manhattan when the Twin Towers fell. About 350 of those deaths have been from different types of cancer, including mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos.

Summer, according to The Sun newspaper, definitively believed that breathing in that dust was responsible for the development of her cancer. A devout Christian, Summer frequently spoke out about the 9/11 tragedy, saying that she was “totally freaked out by the horrific experiences of that day.”

Experts agree that Summer could have been affected by the toxic Sept. 11 dust, which permeated the city for quite some time. Figures already show that cancer rates among police officers and other first responders such as firefighters and EMTs have tripled in the last ten years. An additional study showed that more than 60,000 individuals in NYC and surrounding areas were at risk of developing cancer after inhaling the dust from the towers.

Dr John Howard, the 9/11 Federal Health Director, said: “I think it is plausible that many people will die of the many conditions we’ve seen due to their exposure.”

Instances of asbestos-caused mesothelioma, which usually takes decades to develop, surfaced just a few years after the tragedy. Paramedic Deborah Reeve died of pleural mesothelioma in May 2006, less than five years after she assisted in search and rescue efforts at Ground Zero. By early 2003, she had already developed significant respiratory problems, including symptoms such as difficulty breathing and a persistent cough.

Resources for Mesothelioma Patients and Their Families

Search the News:

Search the News

Upcoming Events

February 2018

National Cancer Prevention Month

“Join the American Association for Cancer Research in supporting important efforts to prevent cancer by visiting the link below.”


World Cancer Day

“World Cancer Day is an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease and pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action. To learn more, please visit the link below.”