Today marks the 14th anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks in New York City. This tragic event in American history continues to affect our country in more ways than one. In addition to the family, friends, and loved ones lost in the attacks, those present in lower Manhattan on the days and weeks to follow continue to deal with serious diseases as a result of toxic substances released into the air when the twin towers collapsed.
Asbestos was just one of those toxic substances residents and emergency response workers were exposed to all those years ago. Related diseases can take years or decades to develop, which means we will continue to see individuals diagnosed with debilitating and often fatal illnesses. Mesothelioma and other cancers, blood disorders, and respiratory conditions are just some of the illnesses affecting those exposed to asbestos and other toxic substances that day.
Firefighters, EMTs, police officers, and other workers are likely to develop a serious condition in their lifetime related to their presence at the World Trade Center. The Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was initiated to help create programs to monitor the health of victims and provide treatment when needed. The program, which also provided funds for those affected by serious diseases, is set to expire next year. Unfortunately, this will be before thousands of individuals are diagnosed.