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Is There a 9/11 Mesothelioma Epidemic in our Future?

Mesothelioma, a gruesome form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, is one of the many illnesses for which the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act provides benefits and compensation. Fourteen years after the terrorist attacks, more than 1,100 people have been certified to receive cancer treatment under the WTC Health Program, and mesothelioma is simply one disease among many that 9/11 responders and survivors need to worry about.

What has been alarming is the speed at which some mesothelioma cases developed. According to the Mesothelioma Center, just two years after the attacks, 41-year-old Deborah Reeve developed a serious cough and later died of mesothelioma in 2004. In 2006, just five years after asbestos exposure at Ground Zero, a 9/11 responder died of mesothelioma. These cases are unusual, because mesothelioma generally has a minimum latency period of 11 years and can take as long as 20 to 50 years to become symptomatic.

The early fatalities raise the question: if asbestos contamination was potent enough to cause these early deaths, what are the long-term effects likely to be for the 410,000 people exposed to contamination at Ground Zero? Is there a mesothelioma time bomb ticking as a result of 9/11? Only time will tell.

But then again, the prospect of a 9/11 mesothelioma epidemic could have been much worse. Construction on the World Trade Center towers began in 1966, but by 1971, an asbestos ban was already on the horizon, so workers stopped using the carcinogenic substance. If all one-hundred-plus floors of the twin towers had been filled with asbestos fireproofing materials, the fallout from Ground Zero could have been much worse.

If you have concerns about asbestos exposure due to 9/11 and wonder if you qualify for benefits, our Zadroga Act attorneys can help. Call Barasch & McGarry  today at 888.351.9421 or contact our office online.

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