Asbestos is a hazardous substance and a known carcinogen. Prior to 1989, however, the health risks of asbestos were relatively unknown, and it was commonly used in the construction of buildings as insulation and a flame retardant. When workers broke ground on the original World Trade Center Complex in 1968, asbestos was used in the construction.
On September 11, 2001, when two planes crashed into the North and South Towers with deadly force, toxic asbestos was released into the air, which remained for months in the Exposure Zone. First responders, clean-up crews, volunteers, and others who lived, worked, and studied were exposed to asbestos.
Years later, exposure to this dangerous substance has resulted in asbestosis and cancers. If you were in the Exposure Zone, and suffer from mesothelioma, asbestosis, or other cancers, you may be entitled to file a 9/11 asbestos exposure claim to obtain compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the common name for six naturally-occurring minerals that can be used for commercial and industrial purposes. It is a highly versatile mineral for commercial use. It is resistant to chemicals, fire, and heat, and does not conduct electricity. It has a wide variety of uses, such as strengthening cement and soundproofing walls.
Once medical experts became aware of the risks inherent in everyday exposure to asbestos, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned new types of use of the material, and many industries searched for safer alternatives.
The Health Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure
When items containing asbestos are moved or otherwise disturbed, they can release fine asbestos fibers into the air. If inhaled, the fibers may become trapped and remain in the lungs. Prolonged, repeated exposure to asbestos can result in the collection of more fibers in the body, which may cause inflammation. Asbestos-caused inflammation can trigger several health conditions, such as lung, larynx, and ovarian cancers, as well as asbestosis, a condition that can permanently damage the lungs.
Symptoms of Asbestos Exposure
Symptoms of asbestos exposure vary depending on what part of the body is affected. However, given asbestos’ proclivity to settle in the lungs, some common signs of exposure include:
- A dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- A crackling sound that accompanies breathing
Asbestos Exposure Following the September 11th Terrorist Attacks
The official “Exposure Zone” for the New York City World Trade Center site encompasses all of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street from the Hudson River to the intersection of Canal Street and East Broadway, north on East Broadway to Clinton Street, and east on Clinton Street to the East River. For survivors (those who were present but did not work on first responder teams), the zone expands to anywhere in Manhattan south of Houston Street and anywhere in Brooklyn within a 1.5-mile radius of the WTC site.
Eligibility for Government Compensation
Those who meet certain eligibility requirements may be able to obtain substantial compensation from two government programs—the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
The level of exposure required for eligibility depends on your individual circumstances, including your location, nature of work, when you first arrived on site, and the duration of your presence.
- FDNY firefighters are at the greatest risk for developing illnesses as a result of toxic asbestos exposure. A 2011 study showed that firefighters who were engulfed in the dust cloud were 19 percent more likely to develop cancer than the general public.
- Paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and police officers comprise the second most vulnerable group.
- Volunteers, sanitation workers, and day laborers who worked in cleanup crews months after the towers fell have experienced a higher incidence of asbestos-related disease than the general population.
Mesothelioma Risk From 9/11 Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is the primary trigger for a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma, which affects the chest and abdomen membranes. Mesothelioma can grow in a patient for 20 to 50 years before becoming symptomatic, at which point the cancer has usually spread widely to other parts of the body. Therefore, 9/11 survivors and responders remain at risk of contracting 9/11 related illnesses in the future.
Although mesothelioma is a covered condition under the WTCHP, its unusually long latency period restricts the number of people who will ultimately receive benefits. Eligible members must have received the diagnosis at least 11 years after September 11, 2001, to qualify. Speak with a 9/11 fund lawyer if you have questions regarding your 9/11 asbestos exposure claim.
VCF Compensation Available For 9/11 Asbestos Exposure Claims
If you are suffering from an asbestos-related health condition, you may also be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The experienced 9/11 asbestos exposure attorneys at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP will pursue your 9/11 asbestos exposure claim on your behalf. Call Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, at 212-983-3000 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.