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A Matter of Life and Breath: Pulmonary Illnesses after 9/11

Of the disease visited upon a wide swath of New Yorkers and others on and after September 11, 2001, respiratory illnesses account for a large number of chronic medical cases more than a decade later.

A 2011 report prepared by the New York Department of Health reads in part:

The collapse of the twin towers of the WTC resulted in a massive cloud of dust and debris that spread over a large area of lower Manhattan, as well as fires which burned out of control for many weeks. The content and distribution of material in the resulting plume was of a complex mixture of building debris and combustion. The dust has been characterized as caustic and alkaline…

Study after study has shown increased respiratory risk to responders, recovery workers and residents after exposure to the toxic dust that settled throughout our city that day and in the weeks and months that followed. Increased incidence of sarcoidosis of the lungs, an inflammatory, scarring disease, were reported in first responders including the New York Police and Fire departments.

A 2006 study from Mount Sinai Medical Center noted 70 percent of the 10,000 rescue workers studied reported respiratory symptoms including:

  • Diminished lung capacity
  • Dry cough
  • Asthma
  • Acid reflux

Since then, research has connected the dots between exposure on and after 9/11 to serious respiratory conditions. Among others, the following conditions are currently covered by the new September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF):

  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Asthma
  • Chronic cough syndrome
  • Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS)

If you were affected by a WTC-related pulmonary condition, speak to your doctor. And if you have not already done so, file appropriate claims for compensation and health care. If you have questions, our firm can help.

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