Posted on August 31, 2020

Our hearts are heavy at the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) as we remember the nearly 3,000 innocent lives that were taken in the 9/11 terror attacks. As we think back on that fateful day 19 years ago, we must honor those who continue to suffer the fallout of these attacks.

Tragically, many of those who courageously served as first responders at Ground Zero are now suffering from chronic illnesses and cancers caused by asbestos and other toxins they were exposed to when they rushed into the disaster to save innocent lives. 

Through the federal Zadroga Act, the World Trade Center Health Program is caring for over 92,000 WTC rescue and recovery workers in the Responder Cohort, and over 34,000 community members in the Survivors Program, with participants from all 50 states are enrolled in this program,” said Dr. Jacqueline Moline, Director of the Northwell Queens WTC Clinical Center. “More than 50% of patients in the programs have chronic medical conditions related to their exposures at the WTC site. Cancer remains a growing concern, with more than 20,000 cases already certified for care in the programs… fear is that these numbers will continue to grow as time passes, and cancers of long latency will begin to affect the WTC affected community.” 

The dust that spread as the towers came down was laced with toxic substances, including ground glass, lead, gypsum, calcite, and asbestos — hundreds of tons of asbestos. For more than a century, asbestos has been known to cause painful diseases and death. Exposure to the fiber can cause mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers, and non-malignant lung and respiratory diseases. Though it has been known as a carcinogen since the early 20th century, asbestos was widely used in the construction of the World Trade Center, including in the application of since-banned fireproofing asbestos spray. Since 1900, the U.S. has consumed 31 million metric tons of asbestos, and it still remains legal and lethal in the US, despite the incredible human cost. 

As Dr. Raja Flores, chairman of thoracic surgery at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center said, “These brave men and women risked their lives to take care of us. Now it’s our turn to take care of them.

On behalf of ADAO, we send the families of 9/11 our heartfelt condolences as we reinforce our commitment to education, advocacy, and community support. We will never forget those brave heroes who risked their lives to save others.  

Remembering …

Linda Reinstein

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