When the World Trade Center towers fell on Sept. 11, 2011, they left behind a pile of rubble and dust. Asbestos, a cancer-causing material, had coated the two buildings’ lower columns. Benzene, another cancer concern among researchers, was in the jet fuel that caused the fires when the planes hit the towers.
New numbers reveal that approximately 1,140 people have been certified to receive cancer treatment under the WTC Health Program. The program was designed to help the thousands of people who worked or lived near the World Trade Center on 9/11 and have since been diagnosed with cancer.
According to CNN, these are the first numbers released since the health program was expanded to include 58 types of cancer, including mesothelioma, in September 2012. The WTC Health Program was created as a result of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was passed by Congress in December 2010.
The program provides medical services and compensation to first responders, volunteers, survivors and residents who worked near the 9/11 site. Many of these individuals were exposed to toxic chemicals, including asbestos exposure, while working at ground zero.
Benefits from the program were just recently expanded to include the responders from the Pentagon attack and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania site, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed.
A CNN article recently highlighted the health consequences linked to working at ground zero for a New York police officer named Reggie Hilaire. For 11 days, Hilaire helped out at ground zero without the use of a protective mask. Afterwards, he was assigned to a Staten Island landfill where debris from the World Trade Center were dumped.
Hilarie was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2005. Soon after, when Hilaire was 34 years old, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer that typically strikes older individuals and multiplies the body’s plasma cells to dangerous levels.
“They looked over my medical records…determined cause and effect,” said Hilaire in the CNN article. “After years saying, ‘We don’t know, we’re not sure,’ they finally said, ‘Yeah, you got it from there’”.
Read the full CNN article now.