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World Trade Center First Responders, Rescue and Recovery Workers

Facing elevated risk for devastating illness

Those who lived, worked or visited in Lower Manhattan and at the World Trade Center site during and after the events of September 11 face an elevated risk of respiratory disease, cancer, acid reflux, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety disorders, and problems with substance abuse. But emergency, clean-up and repair personnel who responded to the crisis face even greater health risks than most people who lived or worked in the area.

Respiratory disease and WTC workers

In 2010, studies emerged showing that nearly all of the workers exposed to the thick clouds of dust after the World Trade Center buildings collapsed have suffered a persistent drop in lung function. For some workers — especially those who were in good health and did not smoke prior to the attacks — this decline in lung function has not had a significant effect on their day-to-day lives. But for many others, the decline in lung function has limited their ability to work, exercise and perform their usual daily activities.

In ordinary cases of smoke and particulate inhalation, lung function declines, but then slowly rebounds over a period of months and years as the lungs heal and recover. In the case of the World Trade Center dust cloud, emergency, rescue and recovery workers suffered a decline in lung function that has persisted for more than a decade.

Cancers and WTC workers

The mix of toxins present in the smoke and dust at the World Trade Center has long been cause for concern among epidemiologists tracking post-WTC health effects. Because cancer takes longer to develop than many other WTC-related illnesses, studies were slow to link certain types of cancer conclusively with exposure to dust and smoke at Ground Zero. But eventually, studies of firefighters exposed to toxic dust and smoke at the WTC site indicated about a 20 percent higher rate of cancer than firefighters without such exposure.

The FealGood Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group whose mission is to aid all emergency personnel who may have suffered any form of injury as a result of the attacks, had long advocated for the inclusion of cancer among those injuries and illnesses eligible for compensation and medical care. The Foundation keeps an unfortunately growing list of WTC responders who have contracted cancer since the attacks.

After significant pressure from advocacy groups and the media, the federal government included various types of cancer on the list of illnesses qualifying for Zadroga Act medical care and Victim Compensation Fund benefits. The list now contains 68 WTC-related cancers.

Personal injury attorneys with a focus on rescue, recovery and clean-up workers

The seasoned attorneys at Barasch & McGarry have long focused part of their legal practice on helping New York City’s firefighters get the pensions and disability benefits they deserve. Since the tragic events of 9/11, we have expanded that practice to include dedicated advocacy for all first responders — EMS crews, firefighters, police, utility workers, clean-up workers — suffering adverse health effects as a result of their extraordinary efforts in the days and months following the attacks. If you worked on the WTC site or with WTC debris, we want to help you take advantage of every health benefit available to you. We want to help you and your family obtain as much compensation as possible.

Barasch & McGarry — helping set things right

No other law firm in the country has recovered more money from the Victim Compensation Fund for its injured clients than Barasch & McGarry, P.C. Please contact us online or by phone at 888.351.9421 to determine your eligibility for WTC compensation or to start the application process.

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