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 first responders developed what was known as the “World Trade Center cough.”
Years later, many of these first 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 VCF. At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, our experienced 911 attorneys will help you determine eligibility and prosecute a 9/11 sarcoidosis claim to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 212-983-3000 for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
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 area of your breastbone
In addition to the first 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. Your doctor will first perform a physical exam, listening to your heart and lungs, checking your lymph nodes for signs of swelling, and noting any swelling in your spleen or liver.
If sarcoidosis is suspected, additional tests will be ordered to eliminate other possibilities and establish an official diagnosis. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may test your blood, 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 your immune system’s response to foreign bodies to allow your organs to heal. You may need to medicate your condition for a short period of time, or your 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 your 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.
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 first responders—on average, subjects suffered from sarcoidosis for at least 12 years after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
If you 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 you have been diagnosed with 9/11 sarcoidosis, you may be eligible for compensation. The Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) compensates first responders and survivors who suffer from diseases like sarcoidosis and were present in the New York City Exposure Zone.
The experienced 9/11 Fund lawyers at Weisfuse and Weisfuse, LLP can enroll you in the WTCHP and prosecute your claim with the VCF to obtain the maximum award available for your 9/11 sarcoidosis claim.
VCF Compensation Available For 9/11 Sarcoidosis Claims
At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, our VCF attorneys are here to help you seek the compensation you deserve. If you were present in the New York City Exposure Zone and have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP at 212-983-3000 for a free and confidential consultation about your 9/11 sarcoidosis claim.