Certainly, living in America, all of our lives were changed nearly 10 years ago on September 11th, 2001. As days moved on, more and more were added to the death toll in the ensuing weeks afterwards. What’s not common knowledge is that some of the effects of the attacks will still be felt for decades to come. For years following, first responders to the attacks at ground zero have been affected by numerous different health problems directly related to the 9/11 attacks.
The span of different toxins that inhabited the area around ground zero following 2001 is particularly frightening. This included asbestos, lead, mercury, as well as an unprecedented amount of dioxin and hydrocarbon arising from the fires and rubble. With a number of first responders on the scene, exposure to these toxins was extremely high. Even afterwards, many people that were allowed to go back to their homes and schools around ground zero ran the risk of toxin exposure. The release of these pollutants has been known to cause a number of diseases correlated with ground zero. This has included cases of pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, as well as a number of other types of cancer. The alarming rate of 70 percent of the first responders on 9/11 was reported to be under some kind of sickness or illness following the events.
One of the related diseases in particular is a main reason that we will see the brunt of some of these health problems for years to come. Mesothelioma, which is a result of exposure to asbestos, is a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the body’s organs, usually in the chest or abdomen region of the body. What makes this disease so particularly scary is the extremely long latency period in between original exposure to asbestos and the onslaught of related symptoms. Sometimes patients will have a period of up to 50 years before they are diagnosed with this disease after an initial exposure to asbestos. Certainly, some of the first responders and people around ground zero may yet to feel the symptoms and impact of a disease like mesothelioma, but the risk still remains. It’s particularly frightening that the disease has such a sever outlook after diagnosis, as mesothelioma life expectancy usually averages only a year.
It is just now that acts and proposals are going through Washington to help these first responders with support and structure in dealing with their health problems. Certainly, this type of support was needed for these brave citizens who risked their lives to save others. Even so, the first responders’ bill only looks to cover support through the year 2016. As mentioned earlier, some of these health problems may not develop for years to come. Hopefully this bill will be extended at some point, because it’s certain that many of these first responders may feel health repercussions for years to come.
Should 9/11 First Responders Bill be extended beyond 2016?