Wednesday, September 12, 2012


In yesterday's post, I noted that the CDC was expanding the list of diseases that are attributable to the toxic dust as a result of the attack on the World Trade Center.  Last night, the information began to hit my medical feeds.

For many years, there has been discussion about the disproportionate numbers of cancer diagnoses, particularly among members of the FDNY, as compared to the general population.  According to the latest information, firefighters and first responders who worked rescue and recovery, debris removal or demolition and "exposed civilians" have a higher burden of mental and physical illness than the rest of the population.  I don't really think it was necessary for tons of research spanning ten years or more to draw such an obvious conclusion.  Mental illness issues seem to be a no brainer.

Physical illness, in the initial months, was restricted to only illness or disease that was respiratory in nature.  Then, cancer reared its ugly head.  Those heroes who ran in as others ran away were being denied access to medical care under the federally funded program designed to pay for those whose health was compromised as a direct result of the attacks.

After a 2011 study confirmed what people had long suspected, all of that will now change.  Over a year ago, it was reported that firefighters who survived had a 19% higher risk of developing cancer in the seven years immediately following 9/11.  According to one journal, at least one thousand people have died as a result of illnesses directly attributable to the attacks.

What has me completely astonished is the fact that under the new recommendations a substantial number of diseases were added and included on this list are FIFTY new types of cancers.  Basically, every conceivable cancer with the exception of pancreatic, prostate and brain are now covered for those who spent specific amounts of time in the lower Manhattan area in the months after the attacks.  Anyone who was in the dust or in the dust cloud is automatically covered.

It is estimated that an additional 70,000 people are now eligible for free medical care due to the expanded guidelines.  I doubt this list was compiled haphazardly.  I'm sure there were plenty of statistical comparative analyses before the list was expanded to include so many new cancers.

I remember walking out of my home two days after the attack.  I recall thinking there must have been a fire somewhere in the area. The assault on my nose and my eyes was immediate.  My eyes glazed over and my nose and throat burned from the toxins in the air.  I was 23 miles away from the site.  It took me several minutes before it dawned on me, "the air is blowing the smoldering fumes in this direction."  I still remember the smell and I can still feel the sting and I can still remember thinking this could not be good for those who were on that pile for endless hours, digging through the rubble of three fallen buildings.

Yes, three.  Beside the obvious, #7 WTC which was a 47 story building, collapsed into itself shortly after 5PM on 9/11.  The inside of the building was consumed with uncontrolled fires.  Sprinkler systems were not working due to damaged pipe from the collapse of the towers.  The fires raging inside #7 were from debris hurled into that building from the collapse of the two main towers.  By 5PM, hundreds of rescue workers were on site, enveloped in another dust plume.  That building, despite its massive size, was merely a parenthetical event but damn, 47 floors is not simply a footnote.

At the end of the day, we now have tens of thousands of people ill and anyone who was in or around that area who develops one of these cancers, likely yet another victim.  These numbers will continue to grow for many years to come. To those who say eleven years is long enough, it's time to move on, I can't move on.  Too many are now looking over their shoulders much the same way many of us with previous cancer diagnosis look over ours.

The current list of cancers?  Here you go:

The Administrator adds the following types of cancers:
  • Malignant neoplasms of the lip, tongue, salivary gland, floor of mouth, gum and other mouth, tonsil, oropharynx, hypopharynx, and other oral cavity and pharynx.
  • Malignant neoplasm of the nasopharynx
  • Malignant neoplasms of the nose, nasal cavity, middle ear and accessory sinuses
  • Malignant neoplasms of the larynx
  • Malignant neoplasms of the esophagus
  • Malignant neoplasms of the stomach
  • Malignant neoplasms of the colon and rectum
  • Malignant neoplasms of the liver and intrahepatic bile duct
  • Malignant neoplasm of the retroperitoneum, peritoneum, omentum and mesentery
  • Malignant neoplasms of the trachea; bronchus and lung; heart, mediastinum and pleura; and other ill-defined sites in the respiratory system and intrathoracic organs
  • Mesothelioma
  • Malignant neoplasms of the soft tissues (sarcomas)
  • Malignant neoplasms of the skin (melanoma and non-melanoma), including scrotal cancer
  • Malignant neoplasms of the breast
  • Malignant neoplasm of the ovary
  • Malignant neoplasms of the urinary bladder
  • Malignant neoplasms of the kidney
  • Malignant neoplasms of renal pelvis, ureter and other urinary organs
  • Malignant neoplasms of the eye and orbit
  • Malignant neoplasms of the thyroid
  • Malignant neoplasm of the blood and lymphoid tissues (including, but not limited to, lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma)
  • Childhood cancers
  • Rare cancers



  1. Replies
    1. You bet... gasp for sure... many gasping for clean air, too.

  2. This is the first chance I've had to get back to your site. HOLY CRAP - what a list! That Mesothelioma is on the list didn't surprise me. Given the age of those buildings, I was sure there had to be asbestos in the insulation or tile or somewhere in the building. Everything else blew me away - the sheer number of items is mind boggling. I'm afraid to look at your previous posting.

    1. I was shocked at how extensive this list was.... and some of the cancers mentioned shocked me. As I scanned the list, I too was totally blown away.


Something to add? Do Share!