When the World Trade Center was built, construction materials such as drywall, steel, insulation and fire-proofing materials were used within the many structures. Asbestos was customary in all of the necessary building materials. Asbestos is highly heat resistant, which was viewed as indispensable to the integrity of the buildings. It has been reported that at least 400 tons of asbestos were used during construction.
When the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001, at least 410,000 citizens were exposed to the asbestos toxins that were released into the air. The enormous cloud of debris that surrounded the city included smoke and dust filled with dangerous asbestos fibers in the form of ultra-fine particles. The people who have been the most affected by the toxic substances that were in the air are the heroic men and women responsible for the recovery, rescue, and clean-up efforts. Those attending to the clean-up were unknowingly exposed to asbestos months after the towers had collapsed.
Health Concerns from the World Trade Center Collapse
As the plans to construct the World Trade Center began in 1966, there were concerns surrounding the decision to use asbestos materials in construction. Even after builders decided in 1971 to halt all use of asbestos, it was too late. Products containing asbestos already had been used to build both towers.
Health concerns over the use of asbestos in building the World Trade Center reached mammoth proportions after 9/11. The implosion of the towers caused toxic debris to blanket Lower Manhattan and expose countless people to hazardous materials.
The life-threatening illness mesothelioma is directly caused by exposure to asbestos. The disaster of the towers collapsing and the toxic cloud that spread over the city resulted in many people contracting asbestosis and mesothelioma at a rapid pace. Mesothelioma usually takes between 20 to 50 years for symptoms to be noticed. However, several people who were exposed to asbestos on 9/11 were diagnosed with mesothelioma only five years after the collapse. In 2004, a worker died of mesothelioma only two years after developing a serious cough.
Medical experts and doctors expect many more people will begin suffering from symptoms related to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions. Many of the first-responders were exposed to the toxic cloud of debris and materials without any sufficient respiratory protection. Over 70 percent of people responsible for the recovery process after 9/11 have suffered symptoms of serious lung conditions. These serious lung problems are referred to as “World Trade Center Cough”. Unfortunately, not only people who responded immediately to the disaster are suffering with significant respiratory distress, but also workers who assisted with the clean-up nearly a year after 9/11.
By 2009, more than 800 World Trade Center workers reportedly have died from various diseases related to asbestos exposure. Mount Sinai Medical Center now has a designated program to treat those affected by the 9/11 disaster, including caring for at least 20,000 people with treatment for various upper respiratory problems. Another disturbing part of this tragedy is that many affected workers are still fighting to receive medical compensation and help for their serious health troubles.