Essay on September 11 Attacks and Trade Center Health

Submitted By tpatterson12
Words: 1162
Pages: 5

Illness On Ground Zero

Cancer, respiratory illness, anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder are all illnesses that the rescue workers, recovery workers, and volunteers of 9/11 have been left to cope with after that unforgettable day. Unlike most, these individuals are still living with the consequences of the most devastating terrorist attack in United States history. All of us can still remember exactly what we were doing and where we were the moment the attack happened. Although most of us only saw the unbelievable images on our television screens, thousands of others were in the center of it all trying to rescue as many individuals as they could. These brave souls were running into the burning and broken buildings as everyone else was running out. September 11, 2001 was indeed the largest and most devastating terrorist attack in our history and it has had lasting physical and mental effects on rescue workers, recovery workers, and volunteers that risked their lives to save others. Research has shown that thousands of rescue workers and volunteers continue to suffer from the conditions associated with the World Trade Center exposure, which has led to the development of several government health programs. As a result of the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers, a toxic mixture of gas, dust, and smoke was released into the air (Farfel et al., 2008). According to one US Geological Survey, the dust had alkalinity levels as high as liquid Drano (Lombardi, 2006). Fires burned for three months in the 16 acre pile of rubble (Brackbill, n.d.). There are several studies that show many of the workers and volunteers are now suffering from upper and lower respiratory illnesses. The most common illness is a severe and persistent cough that is named the “WTC cough”. This cough is defined as debilitating and persistent and the individuals who have suffered from it required at least four weeks of medical leave (Brackbill, n.d.). Other physical ailments that have been reported are asthma, sleep apnea, heart disease, and gastrointestinal disease. But perhaps the most alarming is the number of workers and volunteers that have died from cancer. Although it is not proven that these cancer deaths are linked to the 9/11 tragedy, there is an overwhelming concern that it is the cause. As of May 2008, more than 360 workers have died according to state health officials of New York and of those 80 died from cancer (Lite, 2008). The numbers continue to increase and reports state that more than 600 workers now have some type of blood cancer (Lite, 2008). Surprisingly, the types of cancers being diagnosed are typically very rare among people under the age of 45 (CBS, 2009). Research will continue and these individuals will continue close examination to determine if in fact the World Trade Center rescue and cleanup operations are the cause of these deadly cancers. As well as physical illnesses, there are also mental illnesses that have been caused by the tragedy. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression have all been reported. Many of the workers and volunteers were subject to the daily stress that continued for months. Fortunately, several medical programs and treatment programs have been developed to help these individuals deal with their mental illnesses. The World Trade Center Health Registry was developed in 2002 to evaluate and document the long and short term health effects of the attack (World Trade Center Health Panel, n.d.). It is the largest post disaster registry in United States history (Farfel, et al., 2008). Individuals were encouraged to enroll via telephone, Internet, community outreach, and advertisement. Health surveys are conducted over the phone and online and individuals are asked about physical and mental health issues. Funding is provided by the federal government and New York City (World Trade Center Health Panel, n.d.). The