First Responders and 9/11 Victims Receiving Asbestos-Related Illness Diagnoses

Most of us will never forget the events that took place on September 11, 2001. Every Patriot Day, we remember those who lost their lives that day. For those living through the events of 9/11, the trauma is still not over.

Asbestos-related illness has a latency period of ten or more years. Since it has been 18 years since the attacks, is it not surprising that we are witnessing an increase in mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses among first responders and New York residents present during the time of the attacks.

Rescue Worker – Nick Ursta

Nick Ursta and his wife Margaret were on the White Oak Rescue team that went to New York to assist rescue efforts. They were stationed just one block from Ground Zero. Mr. Ursta passed away from mesothelioma that his doctors confirmed was from asbestos exposure caused by the more than 400 tons of pulverized asbestos sent into the air from the towers at Ground Zero.

New York Firefighter – Rob Serra

Rob Serra served as a New York firefighter at the time of the attacks. During that time, he and other first responders were exposed to dust composed of cement, asbestos, lead, glass, and other chemicals and hazardous materials. At times, Serra recalls having half an inch of white paste on his face from all the debris in the air.

His injuries so far include scar tissue in his sinuses, evidence of neurological damage, and signs pointing to thyroid cancer.

New York Residents

Thousands of NYC residents were exposed to toxins from the 9/11 aftermath. More than 68 cancers, including mesothelioma, are listed as 9/11 related illnesses. Local high school student, Cathy Choy, died in 2019 from gastric cancer. She was only 32 years old. Doctors believe her cancer is related to toxins she was exposed to on 9/11 and the weeks after when toxins were still present in the air. Students that attended high school with Choy recall being told by the EPA that the air was safe and to return to Stuyvesant High School that was just blocks away from Ground Zero.

Amit Friedlander, another Stuyvesant High School student battled Hodgkin lymphoma at the age of 22. He believes his cancer was also 9/11 related.

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