Fans of Donna Summer were saddened this week by the announcement of the singer’s death at the age of 63. Although few details have been officially released, cancer is believed to have been the cause of Summer’s untimely death, with reports indicating that Summer had been privately battling the disease for some time.
Following Summer’s death, it was learned that she had attributed her disease to the toxic air that filled downtown New York City following the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. With this report, it seems possible that asbestos fibers may have caused Summer’s lung cancer, and ultimately, her death.
Summer reportedly lived near Ground Zero on 9/11, and the atmosphere in her neighborhood made her “paranoid about breathing the air, which was heavy with a rancid odor” according to an unnamed source. Summer’s concern intensified in the months and years following the 9/11 attacks, causing Summer to “constantly spray some sort of disinfectant in the air” and “hang silk sheets in her dressing room to prevent dust from coming in,” other sources say.
It is not known whether Summer’s illness was asbestos lung cancer or any of the forms of mesothelioma that are caused by exposure to asbestos. However, studies have shown that first responders and other people who were near Ground Zero at the time of or after the 9/11 attacks have higher rates of several cancers than the general population. Therefore, it is not unlikely that Summer’s suspected connection between September 11 and her cancer may have been accurate after all.
Source: Gothamist, “Donna Summer Allegedly Thought 9/11 Gave Her Cancer, Not Smoking,” Jen Chung, May 18, 2012