As volunteers, sanitation workers, day laborers, and search and rescue groups worked for months among the dust and rubble of Ground Zero, they breathed in toxins such as carbon monoxide, lead, asbestos, fiberglass insulation, and microscopic pieces of glass. This is also true for residents and others who were present in the New York City Exposure Zone. Due to shortages in available protective gear, very few workers had any sort of protection, and those who did often resorted to homemade remedies such as bandanas, T-shirts, and thin surgical masks. Many rescue and clean-up workers received treatment for respiratory issues and complained of difficulty breathing as early as their first day on the scene. Lung conditions became so ubiquitous that many responders developed what was known as the “World Trade Center cough.”
Years later, many of these responders and others in the Exposure Zone were diagnosed with sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is a covered 9/11-related health condition under the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), and as such, those affected may be eligible for compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, our experienced 9/11 sarcoidosis attorneys help victims of 9/11-related illnesses determine eligibility and prosecute a claim to obtain the compensation they deserve. Contact us today at 212-983-3000 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your 9/11 sarcoidosis claim.
What is Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that affects different areas of the body, but usually appears on the skin, lymph nodes, lungs, and eyes. Sarcoidosis and granulomas are types of interstitial lung diseases. These are small masses of inflammatory cells gathering on these organs, causing inflammation. While it’s still unclear what causes sarcoidosis, medical experts believe it can occur as an immune response to environmental toxins, such as the many poisonous materials that permeated the air in the New York City Exposure Zone.
What are the Symptoms of 9/11 Sarcoidosis?
The symptoms of sarcoidosis differ depending on which part of the body is affected. However, the most common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Weight loss
- Persistent dry mouth
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Persistent fatigue
- Frequent nosebleeds
Sarcoidosis of the lungs is the most common type of sarcoidosis affecting the 9/11 community. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough
- Chest pain, particularly in the breastbone area
In addition to the responders, countless people who lived, worked, and studied in Lower Manhattan on or shortly after 9/11 spent months breathing in toxins that caused chronic inflammation in their lungs, making it difficult to breathe nearly 20 years later.
How is Sarcoidosis Diagnosed and Treated?
Diagnosis of sarcoidosis can prove difficult due to the nature of its symptoms, many of which mimic those of other conditions. In most cases, a physician will first perform a comprehensive physical exam, listening to the heart and lungs, checking lymph nodes for signs of swelling, and noting any swelling in the spleen or liver.
If sarcoidosis is suspected, additional tests will be ordered to eliminate other possibilities and establish an official diagnosis. Depending on symptoms, the doctor may perform blood tests, order chest imaging through X-Rays and CT scans, assess lung capacity, and/or take a tissue sample (biopsy) to examine it for evidence of granulomas.
No cure currently exists for sarcoidosis, but patients generally respond well to treatments aimed at managing symptoms. Treatments include immunosuppressive medications, which temper the immune system’s response to foreign bodies in an effort to allow the organs to heal. Patients may need to medicate their condition for a short period of time, or symptoms may require lifetime management.
In general, sarcoidosis patients notice a reduction of symptoms within two years, and many lead relatively healthy lives with little interference from their condition. However, in severe cases, sarcoidosis can seriously damage the lungs and other organs. Those who were exposed to toxins for long periods in the months following 9/11 are at heightened risk for severe sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis Medical Sources
9/11 and Sarcoidosis Development
A 2017 study found that sarcoidosis occurs at a much higher rate than originally thought for 9/11 first responders, particularly firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) workers. While sarcoidosis resolves itself naturally in many cases, the study found that it tended to persist for longer among 9/11 responders, many of whom suffered from sarcoidosis for at least 12 years.
Anyone who lived, worked, or studied near Ground Zero, in the New York City Exposure Zone, or along the routes by which debris was transported for disposal, including Fresh Kills Landfill, and who has been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, may be eligible for compensation. The VCF compensates responders and survivors who suffer from diseases like sarcoidosis and were present in the New York City Exposure Zone.
The experienced 9/11 sarcoidosis lawyers at Weisfuse and Weisfuse, LLP can enroll eligible applicants in the WTCHP and prosecute their claim with the VCF to obtain the maximum award available for their 9/11-related sarcoidosis.
VCF Compensation Available For 9/11 Sarcoidosis Claims
At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, our VCF attorneys are here to help victims of 9/11-related illnesses seek the quality health care and financial compensation they deserve by providing thorough representation and submitting medically-supported optional impact statements on our clients’ behalf. Anyone who was present in the New York City Exposure Zone and has been diagnosed with sarcoidosis should contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP at 212-983-3000 for a free and confidential consultation today.