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Study Confirms Intense WTC Dust Exposure Linked to Heart and Lung Disease

A recent study of 9/11 survivors, published in the online journal Injury Epidemiology, confirms that intense exposure to the toxic dust of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 — but not subsequently — was enough to cause significantly greater risk of heart and lung disease a decade or more later. The study was co-authored by Howard E. Alper, Shengchao Yu, and Robert M. Brackbill of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Steven D. Stellman of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. It examined data on 8,701 people in the World Trade Center Health Registry, consisting of 7,503 area workers, 249 rescue workers, 131 residents and 818 people on the surrounding streets.

According to an article on, Dr. Brackbill described the study as “unique in that it focuses on responders and survivors who had intense exposure to environmental pollution and trauma on 9/11/2001 in New York City, but not afterwards.” As Dr. Brackbill explained, “The main implication of these findings is that intense exposure on the first day of the disaster can by itself increase the risk of developing chronic conditions.”

The study concluded that 9/11 survivors who suffered an injury, such as fractures, head injuries or sprains, were statistically more likely to develop chest pains or have heart attacks. The risk was even greater if they sustained more than one such injury.

Dust exposure on its own was not enough to increase the risk of asthma but was associated with a higher risk of another type of lung disease, especially when coupled with trauma or smoking.

Dr. Iris Udasin, director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute at Rutgers University, in New Jersey, took away one lesson that could have a chilling effect on future Good Samaritans. She warns, “People shouldn’t rush into a disaster without proper training and equipment. There are a number of volunteers who wanted to help and ended up getting sick from their exposures.”

This study is important now because we are just beginning to understand that illnesses suffered by WTC rescue and recovery workers are only the tip of the iceberg. As time progresses, more and more survivors are getting sick from cancers that have long latency periods. These victims include office workers who experienced intense exposure to dust on 9/11 as well as persistent lower-level exposure in southern Manhattan in the subsequent months.

It’s important for these people to know they have a right to free health screenings and treatment for 9/11-related conditions and monetary compensation for their physical injuries. But these rights are time limited, so anyone who suspects their illness may be 9/11-related needs to act now.

If you have questions about your eligibility for benefits from the WTC Health Program or the Victim Compensation Fund, contact our experienced attorneys who have represented 9/11 survivors from the outset. Call Barasch & McGarry at 888-351-9421 or contact our office online.

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  • Deadline Extended to Register for Compensation

    There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers that doctors at the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) have linked to the WTC toxic dust. The deadline to apply to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is two years from the date that a cancer has been certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. The two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when a cancer survivor is made aware their cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins.

    For those who died from their WTC-linked cancers, the two-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.

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Please help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim

Many people have tried to complete the VCF application on their own, only to learn that it requires answers to hundreds of questions and many documents to download. It would be our pleasure to help you complete the process in order to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation.

Let a knowledgeable attorney help you figure it out

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. You undoubtedly have questions about your disease and how you will pay for treatment. Lawyers at Barasch & McGarry ensure you understand the complex requirements and help devise the best strategies for obtaining compensation and appropriate medical care under the Zadroga Act. Contact our law firm online or call 888-351-9421. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to find out whether a lawyer can help.
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