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What Were the Toxic Substances in the 9/11 World Trade Center Dust?

If there is a single image of what happened on September 11, 2001 in New York City, it is the still-standing World Trade Center (WTC) towers burning with a trail of smoke pouring out of what had to be unimaginable horror inside.

But a full dozen years after the towers fell, the dust cloud from the collapse still lingers in a sense. An estimated 400,000 people were exposed on some level to that dust, and today many people are or might be affected by what was there. As of 2013, at least 1,140 individuals have been diagnosed with cancer stemming from exposure to this dust cloud.

Most prominently discussed was the presence of asbestos in the building, which when inhaled can have an incubation period of as long as 50 years, although the first person to die of a lung disease tied to WTC dust was mere months later, in February 2002.

According to Dave Newman, an industrial hygienist and an official with the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, the dust cloud was “a complex mix of hundreds — and possibly thousands — of chemical substances … the majority of which we don’t have any idea what it was.”

But New Jersey-based International Asbestos Testing Labs ran dust samples from in and around Ground Zero. Their findings of very fine particulates included the following:

  • Non-fibrous material: Polystyrene foam, carbon soot, vermiculite mineral, gypsum, quartz and dolomite
  • Fibrous material: Cellulose (wood and paper), glass wool, fiberglass, mineral wool, ceramic fibers, limestone, chromium, aluminum and chrysotile asbestos
  • Metals: Lead, chromium, zinc and cadmium

Almost all health experts indicate that respiratory illnesses, including cancers, are likely to increase as time goes on. By the rules of the WTC victims and volunteer compensation funds, individuals with 9/11 injuries and illnesses need to file claims for compensation within two years of a diagnosis. Speak with a 9/11 injury attorney as soon as possible to learn what might be done to mitigate the costs of your injury.

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Deadline Extended To Register Claims Must file within 2 years from the date your cancer was linked to WTC toxic dust
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  • "If I could give them six stars I would...don't even bother talking to anyone else concerning 9/11. The whole team worked night and day to deliver an outstanding settlement. They are honest, hard working and extremely professional. Just make the one phone call and let them do the rest." - Les Margulis, resident in the exposure zone

  • "I had a very good experience with Michael and Mariya. They made the process stress free. I would recommend this firm to anyone seeking assistance with 9/11 related illnesses." - JE Kirwan, worked in the exposure zone

  • "The people at this firm were just great. They were concern with making sure I was taken care of in every way possible. When I was given an award Mr. Barasch didn't think it was a fair amount and appealed the decision which got me a larger award. I am very satisfied with everything they did for me in the past and are willing to do for me and my family in the future." - Bob Wiecezak, FDNY-Retired

  • "Excellent law firm. Lee London and his staff were very responsive and always followed up with phone calls or emails. This firm is a strong example of what caring and personable lawyers are all about." - Letitia Egan, wife of client, volunteer in the exposure zone

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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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