NEC-SE 5th Year Anniversary Commemoration: 9/11, the Attack that Continues to Kill

For the vast majority Americans, 9/11 is a day to remember and reflect on the deadliest assault on the Continental United States (CONUS) in our nation’s history. But for the approximately 90,000 emergency first responders who were personally involved in the horrific events of that day and their aftermath, Ground Zero – the site of the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the attack — may as well be a huge crime scene with active shooters and ongoing fatalities. To date, some 22 members of the New York Fire Department have died due to 9/11-related ailments.

According to The Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI) a staggering total of over 10,000 first responders at the World Trade center on 9/11 have developed cancer. The Institute states on its website that “officials estimate that more than 2,000 of the first responders who were in and around the two World Trade Centers [sic] when they collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001 have died of cancer they developed as a result of exposure to the toxic blend of ash, chemicals and other toxic materials they dug through to find survivors.”

The cancers (according to the CDC website dedicated to 9/11 related illnesses) include: non-Hodgkin lymphoma; over 12 different types of leukemia; Hodgkin’s disease; malignant immunoproliferative diseases; malignant immunoproliferative disease; myeloid sarcoma, skin cancer, tongue cancer, male breast cancer, malignant neoplasms, mesothelioma; and a plethora of maladies of the respiratory system, eyes, and digestive tract. Approximately 100 or more conditions and diseases and appear on the list, which is by no means exhaustive.  

On 9/11 343 New York City firefighters perished in the line of duty, battling the flames that consumed the Twin Towers. Since that terrible day over 200 FDNY personnel who took part in that effort and in the cleanup that followed have died of illnesses associated with the attack.

Additionally, the New York City Police Department and the New York & New Jersey Port Authority suffered 23 and 37 fatalities, respectively. Also killed were 8 EMTs and 1 member of the New City Fire Patrol. And, as is the case with FDNY, the death toll continues to rise, with 241 NY Police Department officers succumbing to 9/11-linked illnesses. 

The documentary film Dust to Dust: The Health Effects of 9/11 catalogues in great detail the toxic materials unleashed by the attacks. A New York Times review informs readers that     

In addition to more than 400 tons of asbestos, this film counts 90,000 tons of jet fuel containing benzene; mercury from more than a half-million fluorescent lights; 200,000 pounds of lead and cadmium from computers; crystalline silica from 420,000 tons of concrete, plasterboard and glass; and perhaps as much as two million pounds of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from the diesel-fueled fires. Some of those substances are carcinogens; others can cause kidney, liver, heart and nervous-system damage.

Obviously, the figure of 90,000 tons of jet fuel is incorrect; the actual number is a vastly lower 120,000 pounds (60 tons). But this error does not alter the fact that 9/11 first responders (and, for that matter, anyone else on the scene) inhaled or were otherwise exposed to huge quantities of carcinogenic substances, and that many died or suffer chronic disease attributable to that exposure.

The Near East Center for Strategic Engagement was founded on September 11, 2014 on the 13th anniversary of 9/11 to forge enduring partnerships for dealing with the threat posed by global terrorism. Our mission, and our goal, is to not only prevent another terrorist attack on our homeland, but also to carry the fight to the enemy and, ultimately, to accomplish his destruction. Investing in and assisting our friends in the Middle East is essential to achieving this objective.

Categories: Governance, Security