9/11 attacks and cancer: 20 years later

With the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks fast approaching, many people continue to develop serious health problems associated with that fateful day.

And the ongoing pandemic has made things even worse

Attorney Michael Barasch, a managing partner of Barasch & McGarry, which represents 8,000 first responders and others who spent time in lower Manhattan during and after the attack, said many of the thousands of people who became ill from 9/11’s toxic fumes have developed cancer and undergo chemotherapy, which weakens the immune system.

He said some in the 9/11 community have postponed treatment for their illness because of fear of COVID, which has made a bad situation worse.

He also noted that more than 100 of his clients from the 9/11 community have died from COVID.

Barasch said there were 300,000 office workers, many from the Garden State, who returned to work in the months following the attacks as the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced that the air around Ground Zero was safe even as the Twin’s debris Tower continued to smolder.

He said the announcement turned out to be false, and that those workers inhaled the same toxins as the first responders, developing the same kinds of illnesses that firefighters and police in New York City got.

“And yet less than 10% of them realize they are entitled to free health care for the rest of their lives and significant reimbursement if they ever get cancer,” he said.

He said people caught in the dust cloud on 9/11 or working in lower Manhattan within 9 months of the attack are eligible for coverage by the health program and compensation fund.

He emphasized that 9/11 did not end on 9/11.

“Since 9/11, more people have now died from their World Trade Center-related illnesses than the 2,950 people who died that day,” Barasch said. “It’s just horrible to see how many people, how many young people die of cancer.”

The 9/11 health and compensation fund programs have been extended through the year 2090.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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