As many as 400,000 people were exposed to dust and debris in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001. Those individuals included everyone from first responders (fire, police and emergency medical technicians), occupants of the World Trade Center (WTC) who were fortunate enough to escape before the buildings’ collapse, volunteers, cleanup crews, nearby office workers and residents of Lower Manhattan.
Photographs of scenes from that horrible day and the days that followed reveal something unfortunate: Only a small number of individuals had face masks or other filtering devices to prevent them from inhaling or ingesting the mix of cement dust, gypsum, asbestos, lead, copper, zinc, antimony and many other substances that became finely pulverized airborne particulates in the disaster. The nature of how some of these substances interact with the human body is that there is an incubation period of many years — as is the case with mesothelioma resulting from asbestos particles in the lungs.
Because so many people inhaled or swallowed these substances, several health problems have and continue to be diagnosed. This includes between 60,000 and 70,000 first responders. Already, the following conditions in 7,810 survivors of 9/11 have been documented in research conducted by the Mount Sinai Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, with support from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Safety Research:
- Respiratory diseases (28 percent of those studied)
- Traumatic injury other than eye injuries (20 percent)
- Eye injuries and ailments (15 percent)
- Chest pain (8 percent) and headaches (8 percent)
- Skin (4 percent) and digestive system conditions (3 percent)
The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 provides diagnoses and treatment services for certain individuals injured by 9/11. A $4.2 billion fund created by the U.S. Congress pays for the medical care. It is not absolutely necessary that you work with a WTC victims attorney to get this funding. However, a lawyer can help claimants file the necessary paperwork in time to qualify for Zadroga Act healthcare compensation.