For firefighters who worked in World Trade Center rubble, the future includes a heightened risk of cancer
Firefighters make their way through the rubble of the World Trade Center. The work probably made them more likely to develop certain types of cancer, according to new research. (Doug Kanter / AFP-Getty Images)
It’s been nearly 16 years since cleanup work officially ended at New York City’s ground zero, but the health effects for rescue and recovery workers are still making themselves known.
Two studies published Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology suggest that the firefighters who came to lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center face a heightened risk of cancer — and will continue to do so for years to come.
From the time that airliners flew into the twin towers through the months it took to remove the wreckage, ground zero was replete with substances that are either known or suspected carcinogens. Dust from the collapsed buildings, smoke from smoldering fires and exhaust from heavy equipment put workers in contact with asbestos, glass fibers, lead, dioxins, PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and other hazards.