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9/11 and Asbestos Exposure

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Asbestos and the World Trade Center

The World Trade Center officially opened on April 4, 1973, after starting construction in 1966. The World Trade Center was built at a time when asbestos was widely used in the construction industry.

Asbestos, a naturally found mineral, is very durable and resists fire, water and chemical corrosion.

These properties made it very useful in a number of construction materials, including drywall, fireproofing spray, insulation, piping and plastics.

Unknown Health Factors Regarding 9/11

The events of September 11, 2001 were an unspeakable act of terrorism. The aftermath is still felt today — and not only by those who lost loved ones.

Thousands of first responders to the attacks are now being diagnosed with deadly forms of cancers, including mesothelioma. Many of these cancers are linked to asbestos exposure.

How 9/11 Exposed People to Asbestos

In New York, the health risks associated with asbestos became a public concern around 1970. Asbestos-based products were not used to finish construction of the trade centers, and full-scale abatement programs removed most of the asbestos from the buildings before 9/11.

Despite these removal efforts, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that 25% of dust samples from Ground Zero had asbestos levels above what is considered safe, according to Scientific American.

Who Is at Risk?

According to a recent report by NBC, almost half a million people who were at Ground Zero are at risk of developing serious health issues today. This is in part because, since the EPA falsely claimed that the air was safe, many first responders did not receive protective masks to wear as they worked.

At-risk first responders include:

Emergency Medical Technicians

In recent years, high-profile stories have come to light of EMTs getting sick — and dying from — 9/11-related cancer. These victims developed cancer in the ovaries, gallbladder, lungs and other areas.


Paramedics perform similar jobs to EMTs, but they have a greater depth of knowledge and can administer skin-piercing injections. Hundreds of paramedics rushed to help survivors on 9/11 and inhaled dangerous dust in the process.


A recent report from CBS News noted that 15 police officers died from 9/11-caused cancer in 2018. This count was four times higher than the previous year.

Cleanup Crews

Ground Zero burned for over two months after the towers came down, according to a Scientific American report. Those who were tasked with the cleanup may have risked long-term exposure to asbestos and other chemicals.

Programs Helping 9/11 First Responders

Though reports immediately following 9/11 claimed that first responders were not at risk from air pollution, today the deadly truth has come to light.

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that nearly 9,000 first responders have developed some form of cancer in the wake of 9/11. Hundreds of people have already died and more deaths are expected in the coming decades. In response to this health crisis, several state and federal programs have been established to help people who may get sick as a result of 9/11 and assist them with seeking compensation.

Programs that help 9/11 first responders include:

Next Steps for 9/11 First Responders

The long-term health effects associated with 9/11 are still being investigated, and many brave first responders are still at risk today.

Their acts of courage and bravery will never be forgotten.

9/11 first responders deserve financial compensation and the best medical treatments available if they have gotten sick due to their service. These selfless men and women are encouraged to investigate state and federal programs that can award them with financial compensation for their illnesses.