It has been 20 years since the catastrophic September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. And on this anniversary, countless families continue to struggle with the toll the attacks have taken on their loved ones. Some are facing new challenges in light of difficult diagnoses related to toxic exposure to asbestos.
Sadly, these cases are likely to increase.
Why are cases increasing now?
Recent studies show that an increasing number of first responders are developing cancers, including leukemia and asbestos-related illnesses.
Cancers, including mesothelioma, typically take decades to develop. Often, people do not know their asbestos exposure has harmed them for at least 20 years. And when the towers fell 20 years ago, roughly 2,000 tons of asbestos used in the construction of the buildings were released into the air.
Now, two decades later, survivors, first responders and residents in the area may start experiencing the symptoms of lung diseases like mesothelioma.
These symptoms include chest pain, fatigue and shortness of breath, which can mimic countless other illnesses. As a result, people may dismiss them, and doctors can misdiagnose the condition, which means it can take even longer for patients to find out they have mesothelioma.
What happens after the diagnosis?
Because of all these factors, mesothelioma can already be in the late stages when someone is diagnosed. Under these circumstances, there can be fewer treatment options and a poor prognosis.
However, because those exposed during the 9/11 attacks know the site and date of the exposure, it can make it easier for doctors to diagnose lung diseases in their early stages. Doing so gives parties more treatment options and longer life expectancy.
First responders and mesothelioma
Firefighters and other first responders have a higher risk of suffering asbestos-related illnesses due to the nature of their occupation. They are there when fires, floods and other disasters occur and cause property destruction, releasing toxins like asbestos into the air.
And until the 1970s, even the gear firefighters wore contained asbestos.
As such, it is crucial for firefighters and other first responders to talk to their doctors right away if they start experiencing symptoms like those mentioned above.