400,000 tons of asbestos were released in the air in NYC!
On September 11th, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) cost approximately 2,500 American citizens their lives. Now, nearly a decade later, the death toll continues to climb. The reason? The high percentage of pollutants, including heavy metals and the carcinogen asbestos, which were released into the air as a result of not only the destruction of the towers, but also the cleanup effort.
The World Trade Centers were built from 1968 to 1972, at which time a mixture of asbestos and cement was used as spray-on fireproofing material. In 1971, the New York City Council banned the use of this material, as the dangers of asbestos were becoming widespread. The spraying was halted, but the towers were already coated in hundreds of tons of the asbestos fireproofing, reaching up to the 64th floor.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral with long, thin fibrous crystals. The word asbestos is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable. The Greeks termed asbestos the miracle mineral because of its soft and pliant properties, as well as its ability to withstand heat.
Asbestos is toxic. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis (also called pneumoconiosis). Since the mid 1980s, many uses of asbestos have been banned in several countries.|
Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century because of its resistance to heat, electricity and chemical damage, its sound absorption and tensile strength. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. Asbestos was used in some products for its heat resistance, and in the past was used on electric oven and hotplate wiring for its electrical insulation at elevated temperature, and in buildings for its flame-retardant and insulating properties, tensile strength, flexibility, and resistance to chemicals.
When asbestos-containing materials are disturbed the fibers are released into the air, where they can lead to deadly diseases such as mesothelioma.
When the towers were destroyed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, dust and particulate -- with a high percentage of asbestos -- blanketed several square miles of lower Manhattan. Many first responders, such as firemen and policemen, suffered immediate health problems following the attacks. These include the infamous "World Trade Center cough."
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the mesothelium, a protective sac that covers most of the body's internal organs. With rare exceptions, most mesothelioma cancers are considered malignant mesothelioma. |
The two major types of malignant mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma, which concerns the mesothelium membrane that surrounds the lungs, and peritoneal mesothelioma which concerns the mesothelium layer that covers the organs in the abdominal cavity.
The prognosis, therapy (including types of chemotherapy) and treatment choices are similar whether the cancer is pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma.
One study estimates that 85% of first responders have some sort of respiratory ailment. Another study approximates that 110,000 people may have suffered serious exposure. Although asbestos is found in the atmosphere in small amounts, airborne asbestos levels in New York City following the WTC's collapse were 93,000 times higher than normal.
During the attacks' aftermath, when demolition took place to clean the remains, workers were further exposed. There are specific procedures which must be followed in asbestos abatement, and those precautions were not always taken in the demolition of the World Trade Centers.
Studies report that first responders and New York City residents are now dying of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a very aggressive form of cancer that can have a latency period of several decades. The cancer, which is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure, attacks the outer lining of major organs such as the heart, abdomen, and lungs. By the time any symptoms manifest, it is often too late, since there are mesothelioma treatment options, but no cure.
Those who survived the collapse of the Twin Towers, as well as those who helped clean up Ground Zero and even residents of nearby neighborhoods, are all facing diseases related to asbestos exposure.
See www.asbestos.net for more information.
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