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9/11 Memories linger so do the health effects

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Ten years later the health effects are still being felt from physical to mental

No one knew on that September morning a disaster was about to occur that would shock millions of people who were going about their normal daily morning routines. It started out as a normal morning in the world until four al-Qadea terrorists had hijacked four passenger jets. Two of these jets had deliberately flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapsing both towers in a mere two hours.

These attacks had an instant and devastating effect upon all Americans that morning. The New York City Fire Department had immediately sent 200 units to the site; this was half of the department. Various off-duty firefighters and emergency medical technicians had gathered to help the efforts. The New York City Police Department had dispatched Emergency Service Units and other police personnel. Police and rescue workers across the country had taken a leave of absence going to New York City to lend help.

It is now ten years later those memories of that tragic day linger and for those who had given assistance that day not only carry the memories but many carry the health affects that that tragic strike had left behind.

PSTD (post traumatic stress disorder) according to recent research is the most common health effect of 9/11. Nearly 19% of adults enrolled in the WTC Health Registry had reported post traumatic stress symptoms five to six years after the event.

Upon the collapse of the towers dust and debris had immensely filled the air bring dire health issues into play. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the blankets of dust covering Manhattan were composed of construction materials mainly from the ground up which had included glass, fiberglass, and concrete even asbestos. There are those who also note that the materials even included lead, mercury, dioxins, cadmium and PCB’s. In the late 1960’s when construction had started on the towers there was no asbestos warning or bans implemented. Nearly, 400 tons of asbestos fiber was in the building materials. According to scientists the dust and smoke which had been released by the devastation is known as the greatest penetrating environmental disaster in New York history. Medical experts and officials estimate that between 40,000 and 90,000 workers and volunteers who spent time in the debris piles just may have been affected in someway due to the dust.

Those exposed to this dust had the likely risk to develop respiratory problems, sinus problems, lung problems or asthma.

Many of the workers have reported acid reflex, heart burn or other gastroesophageal reflux symptoms usually accompanied with respiratory or mental health symptoms.

In July, the debate had heated up concerning workers having cancer. At that time the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health had released a report which had stated "insufficient evidence exists at this time to propose a rule to add cancer”.

Now a new study reveals that firefighters exposed to the toxins which filled the air on that day ten years ago have a greater chance for the development of cancer.

This research is published in the Lancet medical journal noting that the increase had occurred during the first seven years after 9/11.

Dr. David Prezant, chief medical officer with the New York City Fire Department and lead author had stated even after excluding cancer which could have been diagnosed or existed before the attack there is still a 19% increase. Dr. Prezant had remarked to CNN if you add those cancers back in there is a 32% increase.

One theory to the development of cancer in workers is the unparalleled traits of the dust from ground zero and the numerous chemicals it contained could of speed up the disease in the responders.

Researchers have in fact reported the appearance of hundreds of compounds contained in the dust among them carcinogens.

According to the study the overall increase in cancer rates among firefighters is powerful. When the findings get broken down into specific cancers the numbers become more modest. There are inclinations – suggestive increases in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, gastro-esophageal cancers and blood cancers like multiple myeloma.

In December 2010, Congress had passed The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act which has been created to provide medical services and compensation for responders who had suffered exposure to the dangerous toxins while working at Ground Zero.

At this time the bill has no coverage for cancer and like reported the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health determination was there is no association to cancer and the dust. A review is not expected until 2012.

In the meantime persons like Jeff Stroehlein, New York firefighter who worked at ground zero three days after the attacks and stayed helping for two weeks had retired in May. This retirement came right after he had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Stroehlein states he does believe there is an association between cancer and exposure to the toxins at ground zero. Other responders are also convinced of this association.

Former vice detective with the New York City Police Department, Ernie Vallebuona, had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma three years after he had worked at ground zero.

Many people today still have memories of that horrific day and do believe that there is a solid connection between cancer and exposure to the toxins that filled the air.

A brief summary of the Zadroga act can be viewed in pdf format at Zadroga Act Program Chart.

Numerous 9/11 memorial and remembrance events will be held in the Detroit area on Sunday. They include:

“Michigan Remembers 9/11 will hold a September 11th 5k walk/run on Belle Isle.

The Detroit Zoo and Kroger are hosting Michigan First Responders with free admission to them and a guest. The day will include a Ceremony of Remembrance at 10:30 a.m. in the Main Picnic Grove.

Art Van Furniture and the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers are selling the memorial floating sky lanterns for $5 each in partnership with CBS Radio Detroit. All proceeds will benefit The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services. They are on sale at all 39 Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers and 18 Art Van Furniture stores.

For more local communities and organizations holding 9/11 memorials and events you can find them on the Action 7 News site.

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