How toxic 9/11 air caused serious problems

September 11, 2001 will go down in American history as one of the darkest moments. To this day, the effects of the heinous attack are still being felt by first responders and survivors.

People living and working in the Lower Manhattan district at the time of the disaster, in particular, suffered serious health risks from the toxic dust and smoke from the fires that continued to burn for months.

Toxic 9/11 air caused serious illness

Let’s take a look at the serious problems caused by toxic air after 9/11 and how they continue to affect the lives of Americans many years later.

How toxic was the dust from September 11?

The dust that filled the air in lower Manhattan after the collapse of the two towers was highly toxic.

It was mainly composed of sprayed concrete which is associated with silicosis by inhalation. The remainder was a combination of over 2,500 contaminants, of which 50% were non-fibrous material, 40% glass and other fibrous material, 9.2% cellulose and 0.8% asbestos, and detectable amounts of mercury, lead, crystalline silica and cadmium, among others. Other contaminants included high levels of dioxins and other toxic gases from the fires that continued to burn for up to three months after the tragedy.

Exposure to these harmful particles and fumes has resulted in debilitating illnesses among emergency responders, cleaning workers and residents of lower Manhattan and beyond.

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Image created by Market Business News using material from Wikipedia.

If you are suffering from an illness like cancer or chronic respiratory disease that you suspect was caused by 9/11, there is good news for you. You may be entitled to lifelong medical treatment and compensation from the 9/11 Compensation Fund. However, the process of receiving your benefits is not that simple and it is preferable to work with September 11 lawyers to help you manage your complaint.

Common illnesses resulting from the toxic air of September 11

Since the September 11 attack, thousands of people have had to live with crippling respiratory illnesses and cancers from exposure to toxic air and fumes after the attack.

In 2018, more than 2,000 deaths were reported from complications of 9/11-related illnesses. Health experts predict that these deaths will soon be more numerous than the deaths that occurred on that fateful day.

Here are some of the common illnesses resulting from the toxic air of 9/11.


A study published in the journal of the American Medical Association noted a possible link between exposure to toxic dust and debris from the World Trade Center and cancer in survivors and first responders. Some of the most common types of cancer among these groups are thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma.

“World Trade Center cough”

In the aftermath of September 11, many survivors, first responders and residents of lower Manhattan reported a cough called “World Trade Center cough.” Although it started out as a common cough, the symptoms have since become more severe, developing into crippling chronic respiratory illnesses.


Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune disease that can attack any organ in the body. However, in most cases the disease starts in the lungs or lymph nodes. Although studies have yet to establish a definitive link between exposure to September 11 dust, data shows elevated levels among firefighters. In 2007, the NYC chief medical examiner confirmed a link between exposure to dust from the disaster to death from sarcoidosis.


An average of 8% of first responders and volunteers engaged in the rescue and recovery, clean-up and restoration of essential services following the 9/11 incident reported experiencing asthma attacks. This prevalence rate correlates exposure to toxic air after the disaster and asthma, as asthma is typically seen in 4% of the general population.

Put it all together

The full effects of toxic air in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack extend beyond Manhattan and New York City and may never be fully established. However, following the enactment of the Zadroga Law of 2016, victims of the effects of the horrific terrorist attack can access lifelong medical care and cash payment to compensate for the damage suffered.