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Are 9/11 Responders and Survivors at Risk of Mesothelioma? 


In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Lower Manhattan was engulfed in a cloud of toxic dust. Among the harmful chemicals found in the debris at Ground Zero and in the air throughout the New York City Exposure Zone was asbestos. Tragically, many responders and survivors continue developing various forms of cancer and other health conditions in connection with asbestos and the many other harmful compounds in the dust cloud. They also continue to be at risk for diseases that can take decades to develop, such as mesothelioma.  

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. It develops in the lining of specific tissues within the body, such as the lungs or abdomen. Over time, inflammation and scarring can result, and tumors begin to form. The four types recognized are based on the location of the tumors — they include pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma, and testicular mesothelioma.       

Symptoms of mesothelioma can include the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fluid buildup

Because it can take 10-50 years for symptoms of mesothelioma to appear after asbestos exposure, medical professionals expect to see a rise in 9/11-related cases in the coming years. This is why regular medical screening with the WTC Health Program is vital for anyone who spent time in the NYC Exposure Zone in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. When mesothelioma is diagnosed in the early stages, more treatment options may be available. Once diagnosed, a victim’s life expectancy is 18-31 months with treatment. 

Typically, mesothelioma can be diagnosed with imaging scans, blood tests, or biopsies. Treatment options can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and electromagnetic tumor treating fields, depending upon the disease’s stage and the tumor’s location. 

VCF Compensation for Mesothelioma

A diagnosis of 9/11 mesothelioma or another form of cancer linked to the toxic dust cloud can be life-changing for both you and your family. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund provides monetary awards to responders and survivors who have developed any WTC-Health Program certified health condition — including mesothelioma or other diseases caused by asbestos inhalation.

The VCF issues compensation for the monetary losses suffered due to a 9/11-related illness and the non-economic losses a victim may have sustained. While economic losses can include lost earnings, benefits, replacement services loss, and out-of-pocket expenses, non-economic loss covers the physical pain and emotional suffering experienced by a victim. Also referred to as “pain and suffering,” a non-economic loss award from the VCF can range from $10,000 to $90,000 for non-cancers and up to $250,000 for a cancer condition, such as mesothelioma. 

In addition, if your loved one passed away due to mesothelioma or another 9/11-related illness, you may be entitled to compensation. Under the Zadroga Act, the spouse and dependents of a victim may be entitled to $200,000 each in a VCF wrongful death claim, plus $250,000 on behalf of the victim. 

Contact an Experienced New York City VCF Attorney

If you are a 9/11 responder or survivor who developed mesothelioma or another illness linked to the dust cloud, you may be entitled to compensation from the VCF. It’s essential to have a skillful VCF attorney who can help you navigate the claims process and ensure you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve.

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


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