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20 Years Later: The Long-Term Health Effects of 9/11


Although 20 years have passed since terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, numerous responders and survivors continue to suffer the impact of health effects linked to the dust cloud — and develop new illnesses and conditions. Over 65,000 responders and survivors enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program over the past two decades were diagnosed with at least one 9/11 health condition, and 23,000 had at least one type of cancer. Tragically, more than 4,600 responders and survivors registered in the program have passed away due to a 9/11-related illness or accident. 

The Increased Health Risks Faced by 9/11 Responders

Research shows that 9/11 responders face an increased risk of certain health conditions — including cancer — in comparison with the general population. For example, responders have a 25% greater chance of developing prostate cancer, and a 41% higher risk of being diagnosed with leukemia. Responders also have nearly double the chance of being diagnosed with thyroid cancer and are four times as likely to develop GERD and chronic rhinosinusitis. 

Studies have revealed that the risk of these conditions can increase for those who responded earliest at Ground Zero. The duration of time spent there has also been linked to the rate of risk. Significantly, firefighters who arrived early on the morning of 9/11 have been found to have a 44% greater risk of cardiovascular disease.  

Health Issues in Responders and Survivors Since 9/11

As a result of long latency periods, many responders continue to develop 9/11-related diseases and health conditions to this day. Critically, some cancers do not appear until decades after exposure to toxins, such as mesothelioma — which has a 20-year latency period. Health conditions such as lung problems can also worsen as responders age. 

Although complaints of ear, nose, throat, and respiratory issues were common within the first 60 days after 9/11, other illnesses only became prominent years later. Within two to eight years after the terrorist attacks, instances of respiratory problems began to increase. Additionally, within the first decade, cancer diagnoses began to rise, along with the rates of cardiovascular disease, and continue to do so. Despite the amount of time that has passed since 9/11, responders and survivors should continue to monitor their health and attend regular screenings with the WTC Health Program.

Medical Treatment and VCF Compensation for 9/11 Health Problems

In addition to being eligible for an award from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, responders and survivors should be aware that they may be entitled to obtain medical monitoring and treatment at no cost. Importantly, the World Trade Center Health Program offers medical monitoring and treatment to eligible 9/11 responders and survivors who meet certain criteria. The program also certifies 9/11-related health conditions for the purposes of pursuing a VCF claim.

Once a 9/11-related health condition is certified by the program, a responder or survivor who meets the VCF’s separate eligibility requirements can file a claim for compensation with the VCF. Recognizing the toll a 9/11-related health condition can have on the life of a responder or survivor, the VCF provides compensation for the economic and non-economic losses they may have incurred as a result.  

Contact an Experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

A 9/11 health condition can be severe and debilitating. If you’ve been diagnosed with an illness, disease, or cancer linked to the toxins in the NYC Exposure Zone, you may be entitled to receive monetary recovery from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. However, the process of registering with the VCF and filing a claim can often be confusing and frustrating. It’s best to have a knowledgeable VCF attorney who can guide you through the process — and help ensure you receive the award you deserve. 

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.


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