The immediate impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania when passengers took control of their hijacked plane, was stifling. A total of 2,974 people died, including more than 400 firefighters and police in New York alone.
Congress responded by quickly creating a fund to compensate victims and their families. That fund closed in 2003.
But that was just the first wave of fatalities and injuries. The second came in the months and years that followed. Survivors, first responders and New York residents who lived, worked and went to school near the Twin Towers were being diagnosed in droves with aerodigestive disorders like recurrent respiratory infections and chronic cough caused by inhaling toxic particles.
In 2010, Congress revived the fund, expanding its dispensation to include this second wave of people sickened by the blast. The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) covers health care expenses for people diagnosed with eligible diseases, including cancers, asthma, and chronic bronchitis and sinusitis. The Victim Compensation Fund was also expanded to provide payments for 9/11-related illnesses and deaths.
The fund was to run out sometime this year, but activists including former The Daily Show host Jon Stewart convinced Congress to extend coverage another 70 years. More than 125,000 are currently enrolled in the program and at least 18,000 have been diagnosed with 9/11-related cancer, Newsday reported. According to Newsweek, 3,946 people enrolled in WTCHP have died, based on data from the National Institute for Occupation Safety & Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Doctors expect the last wave of 9/11 victims to come crashing down soon, people who developed cancer from being exposed to dangerous toxins at Ground Zero, like asbestos and benzene. It can take up to five decades for the first symptoms of mesothelioma — a rare form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure — to present. Blood cancers like acute myeloid leukemia (AML) from benzene exposure can also take years to develop.
Beasley Allen lawyers, headed up by Charlie Stern in our Toxic Torts section, handle mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational, and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma. Contact us for more information.