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article imageOp-Ed: 9/11 – the slow death victims

By Alexander Baron     Sep 4, 2011 in World
New York - Although the immediate death toll from the Twin Towers atrocities was just shy of 2,800, the final toll may be considerably higher due to slow, lingering illnesses caused by the dust clouds that swept over Manhattan.
This short BBC documentary in the Our World series is currently available on iplayer, for those who can receive it. One of a number of programmes to commemorate that dreadful day, it is presented by David Shukman, and follows the misfortunes of the men who had the task of cleaning up after the murderers.
We have all seen those massive clouds of dust that rose to two thousand feet as the buildings collapsed. While most of us realise that breathing in any sort of dust is not conducive to good health, few people probably gave any thought as to just how toxic this particular mixture must be, containing not only pulverised brick, plaster and glass but asbestos, and all manner of other toxins including heavy metals and batteries from computers.
The programme includes close ups of a cleaner and a police officer who worked at and around Ground Zero in the months that followed, and are now paying the price.
The New York Stock Exchange was re-opened a week after the atrocities, an obvious act of defiance against the sub-humans who had brought so much devastation and suffering to New York and America, but with the wisdom of hindsight, this might be construed as an act of bravado, by exposing city workers to the residuum. The people who have suffered most though are the recovery and clean up workers.
Fortunately, unlike Gulf War Syndrome, the authorities did not refuse to accept the existence of 9/11 related illnesses, and legislation providing for compensation was enacted probably as swiftly could have been expected from the US Government; it is named after James Zadroga, a New York Police officer who died from respiratory failure January 5, 2006 before his 35th birthday. Monetary compensation is all good and fine, but even for the living, there are some things money can’t buy, and it is unlikely to end here.
One lawyer Shukman spoke to said it may take another twenty or more years for some diseases to develop; unfortunately, this is not simply lawyer-speak. We have yet to see the emergence of 9-11 related cancers, but there can be little doubt they will come.
This article is part of Digital Journal's project to remember September 11. If you have a story to tell, join us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your memories to Digital Journal. Full details on how to participate can be found here. You can also read other submissions on our September 11 Anniversary page.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about James Zadroga, September 11, New york, Cancer, Lung disease
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