The sick hero: 3 health problems of 9/11 first responders


Millions of Americans and people around the world were stunned when they watched on television the news of two commercial planes that crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. As the rest of the world watched under To the shock, more than 90,000 Americans took action and volunteered to help search for survivors.

Ground Zero, as the site where the Twin Towers are said to be known, was buried by a pile of mountains of molten steel bars, shards of glass and, unbeknownst to first responders, piles of toxic dust, noxious fumes and smoke rising from the rubble. They didn’t know that they were, in a way, practically digging their own graves for about 10 or 20 years down the road.

This informative post talks about the compensation fund for 9/11 responders who contracted illnesses from the event. On the other hand, below is a list of the most common health issues they suffered from.

Nearly 3,000 people died when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) collapsed. It has been two decades since, but those who responded to the destruction as the first rescuers have also died in increasing numbers.

There were approximately 90,000 people known to be courageous first responders at Ground Zero. They participated in the frantic efforts to search for survivors under the toxic dump that covered Ground Zero. It was all part of the massive rescue and recovery operation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks as Americans rushed to find survivors.

Of the total estimated number of respondents, about 40,000 developed conditions later or in the following months. There are approximately 10,000 first responders and volunteers who have subsequently been diagnosed with various types of cancer. These cancers were found to be undoubtedly linked or associated with the toxins to which they were exposed during the rescue operations.

Search and rescue took weeks and months. Many of them had no choice but to inhale the fumes, chemicals, noxious dust and dangerous debris. Among these first responders, various research studies have linked at least 60 types of cancer to the September 11 attacks. Of those who signed up for the WTC’s health program, at least 4,627 have already died in 2020.

  • Respiratory and digestive diseases

More than 76,000 rescuers and rescuers are enrolled in the WTC Mount Sinai health program. Among the first responders enrolled in the WTC’s health program, the two most common conditions were chronic rhinosinusitis (also known as nasal inflammation and gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD).

Almost half of the first responders still alive suffer from a respiratory or digestive illness. These problems are also linked to September 11. Many of those who developed illnesses were diagnosed with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic rhinosinusitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Some of the living first responders fell ill with other conditions or conditions not yet covered by the health care program, such as heart disease and other cardiovascular disease. Yet researchers and medical experts familiar with living first responders say the data is still pending. They say it could yet be discovered that these uncovered illnesses are also directly related or at least can be attributed to the 9/11 exposure they suffered.

Another research was done by Moshe Shapiro of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The study found that among first responders, about 74% suffered from at least one physical or mental health problem. These conditions are directly related to their exposure to Ground Zero debris.

Of the 74% of first responders who became ill, 28% were diagnosed with a mental health problem. Some of them have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) while others go through prolonged episodes of depression. There are also quite a few who suffer from survivor guilt. Yet many more have been addicted to drug addiction and other addictive behaviors.

Help for first responders

There have been many efforts to honor and remember the victims of September 11. Over the next 20 years, there were also government programs to assist living first responders by providing financial assistance for their health care needs. But that does not cover any disease. There are only a handful of ailments, illnesses and ailments covered by financial aid. At this time, more studies are needed to link other conditions to debris, toxic fumes and trauma from the 9/11 attacks.


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