Three quarters of firefighters intervening on September 11 have developed health problems

Three quarters of firefighters intervening on September 11 have developed health problems
Three quarters of firefighters intervening on September 11 have developed health problems

20 years after the attack, illnesses caused by toxic smoke are still piling up among firefighters who participated in the rescue efforts, ranging from lung and heart problems to cancer.

A disaster that never ends. Two decades later, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, mainly due to diseases caused by toxic smoke generated by the collapse of towers, such as the. This is particularly the case with firefighters who were on duty following the attacks: according to a report from the New York City Fire Department, 75% of them developed chronic illnesses. The, published in September 2021, finds that more than 11,300 firefighters (out of a total of 15,200 having been there) suffered from a medically certified disease, ranging from respiratory or digestive complications to cancer. More than 3,000 of them developed at least one cancer (several hundred developed multiple cancers), and nearly 250 died from it.

Cancers that become more frequent over time

The smoke released by the attack contained carcinogenic components, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, asbestos, sulfuric acid, arsenic and benzene. A highly toxic environment to which firefighters were exposed for days on end. “And now there is the age factor as well. There is a synergistic effect between this exposure and the increasing age of firefighters ”, explained epidemiologist Rachel Zeig-Owens, director of the health program created following the attacks and co-author of the report, in a .

Already in 2011 one had shown that these firefighters had 10% more probability of developing cancer compared to the rest of the population of New York. A risk that is confirmed in a more recent study, published on September 10, 2021 in, which shows that firefighters on duty at the time of the attack and the following days have 13% more risk of developing cancer, compared to colleagues who did not participate in the rescue after the disaster. A risk that increases considerably for some people.[…]

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