In August, The New York Post reported that the number of cancer cases among WTC responders and survivors was approaching an ominous milestone: 10,000 cases of cancer linked to 9/11, due to exposure to the toxic dust of Ground Zero. This number continues to grow and has now exceeded 10,000. As the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks passed, the article noted that the “World Trade Center Health Program has counted 9,795 first responders, downtown workers, residents, students, and others with cancer deemed 9/11-related.” The death toll from 9/11-related diseases stands at more than 2,000, and that total includes 420 people stricken with cancer.
But rather than abating, the health crisis caused by 9/11 is accelerating. Dr. Michael Crane, medical director of the WTC Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital, says, “We [currently] get these referrals 15 to 20 times a week.” The increase in cancer cases is not altogether surprising, since many cancers take time to develop. Some cancers have latency periods of more than 10 years, and on the extreme end, mesothelioma can take 20 to 40 years to emerge.
Cancer is a disease generally found in older people, and the community of 9/11 survivors is aging. As The Post reports, “the average age of Ground Zero workers and others affected has risen from 38 to 55. Some are in their 70s.” So, according to Dr. Crane, we would be seeing a rising cancer rate among these people even if they’d never been exposed, but the incidence of cancer would not be as alarming. Scientists have found cancers hitting the 9/11 community at a significantly higher rate than expected in the normal population.
However, new cancer cases are not just coming from the responders who were adults at the time. Our law firm has increasingly represented clients who were students, residents, office and non-office workers, volunteers, teachers, and more at the time of the attacks. The former students have developed illnesses including deadly cancers in their early 30s. A number of our clients were students at Stuyvesant High School, located in downtown Manhattan, just blocks from Ground Zero. As these former students reach adulthood, they often don’t connect their health conditions with their exposure to toxic dust so long ago. We have been working to raise awareness among former students, teachers, and others who may not know they have the right to free health screenings, treatment for 9/11-related illnesses, and even monetary compensation in many cases.
As determined lawyers for 9/11 victims, we want to see all eligible parties receive the care and compensation they deserve. Barasch & McGarry has recovered more than $2 billion for 9/11 victims. If you need assistance accessing your 9/11 benefits, call us at [ln::phone] or contact our Manhattan office online.