Twenty-nine schools were in the contamination zone of the 9/11 attack, according to the World Trade Center Health Program. However, students and teachers in these facilities are held to different standards for enrollment in the medical monitoring through the WTC Health Program as compared to first responders. As designated “survivors” under the James Zadroga Act, individuals who might have been exposed to harmful substances while in school must demonstrate symptoms associated with a 9/11-related illness before they can receive a free screening.
Ellie Engler, an industrial hygienist and an official at the United Federation of Teachers, asked the City Council to contact students who were in the danger zone during the 2001 attack and subsequent cleanup operation. With no proactive outreach presently scheduled, she said, individuals who might be affected need to know the facts, such as:
- Schools affected — Students who attended Manhattan schools south of Canal Street during the 2001-2002 academic year are eligible for benefits under the Victim Compensation Fund. This includes high schools such as Stuyvesant and Murry Bergtraum as well as many elementary schools, so the current age range of affected individuals runs from the early 20s to late 30s.
- Unexpected cancers — At least 68 different cancers have been associated with exposure to the area around World Trade Center site, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast cancer and bladder cancer.
- Pulmonary disorders — Toxic dust, heavy metals, asbestos and other materials present at the site could trigger serious or permanent respiratory problems, such as asthma or sarcoidosis.
Unfortunately, most schools don’t make any effort to keep track of former students. It’s very possible that a young adult suffering from a serious illness might not be aware of the 9/11 link, especially if they’ve moved out of the area.
For many years, Barasch & McGarry has focused on the danger faced by students and teachers who were in nearby schools during the days, weeks and months after 9/11. If you believe that you or a family member might have been affected by airborne toxins in the contamination zone, please call 888-351-9421 or contact us online.