Sunday, September 04, 2011

What is World Trade Center Illness?

"60 Percent of Ground Zero Workers sick in 2006


As we look at the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it's time to re-evaluate the question 'What is World Trade Center Illness?"

What we are now calling “World Trade Center Illness” (or syndrome or cough) - sickness that results from exposure to the toxic dust of the WTC - can manifest as squamous cell cancer (SCC) or mesothelioma asbestos lung or stomach CANCER. Both cancers result from chronic chemical, petroleum by-products or asbestos exposure. Exposure increases risk, and folks have been exposed to large quantities of toxic material for years now. We have to stop pretending not to know. Given the toxic cocktail of chemicals in the dust, we must even be open to new possibilities of illnesses to reveal themselves.

Since September 11, 2001, folks in parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have been breathing, eating and drinking the dust from the World Trade Center. The toxic soup contained transformer oil contaminated with PCB'spolyvinylchloridecopperfuranspolybrominated diphenyl ethersdioxins, asbestos, mercury from the computers and lights, thousands of gallons of jet fuel, and what the National Resources Defense Council - NRDC also defined as “small hazardous waste generating entities.”

Add to that an estimated 50,000 personal computers with four pounds of lead each, pulverized, and that is 200,000 pounds of lead released into the atmosphere.

Chronic asbestos and petroleum by-products’ exposure can cause cancer. Folks have been exposed to known carcinogens, and we need to deal with this situation now.

People in New York were told “We need you strong.” Rather than evacuate the area, the city was put on lock down, and the EPA report was manipulated by the White House to reflect minimal danger in the dust. There was no choice but to consume the toxins.

From WTC Volunteer Albert Davis’ book (As told to Terri Suess ) on his experience, Getting To Ground Zero:

“The bottom line was there was a shortage of masks. I was able to get one box of matching masks and filters and delivered them to where they were needed, near the “Hole”. They were gone in an instant. I thought of asking rescue workers for their masks when they came out of the site to take a break so the next rescue worker could use it. No one else thought that idea would work so I abandoned it.”


From “Squamous cell carcinomas may also occur where skin has suffered certain kinds of injury: burns, scars, long-standing sores, sites previously exposed to X-rays or certain chemicals (such as arsenic and petroleum by-products).”

SCC can happen internally due to breathing petroleum by-products. I am dealing with this on a personal level now, which is the catalyst for these observations.

My mother-in-love, Edith Akuna, 69, worked for General Motors in Van Nuys, CA in the 1980’s. Her job on the finishing line was to put the stickers on new cars, approving the engine worked. She also pumped gas into the cars for part of her time there.

To do her job, Edith breathed the chemicals off the new, 'starting for the first time' cars for years. After developing respiratory problems, she was put on complete disability about 12 years ago.

Edith, who was otherwise healthy, died of SCC, the kind that results from chemical exposure. SCC is usually a skin cancer. Because she breathed the chemicals, the SCC was on her internal organs.

She had a mass that went from the top of her neck down her right lung, a second tumor lower on her lungs and one on each kidney. As the doctors were explaining the nature of squamous cell cancer I thought, ‘chemicals, like what the folks consumed on 9/11?'

I made the connection between WTC Illness and SCC because the transformer oil and the thousands of gallons of jet fuel, plus the pulverized plastics (petroleum by-products and other chemicals) are what folks in at least part of the tri state area have been consuming, like Edith did at her job.

Her son, Sherwood, is petitioning General Motors for a list of what she was exposed to that caused her to be released early with a full pension. We know based on Edith's job description and interviews with co-workers that petroleum by-products are on the list. Of course they have not released the list. 

The problem of WTC Illness is not just SCC.


When the towers exploded, asbestos was blown into buildings, into fabrics that people interact with, and though the WTC area has been cleaned up, much of the surrounding area has not and the dusty material was transported in open trucks.

More from the CDC on September 13, 2001.

“What are some things that can be done to limit exposure?

For the general public, the further an individual is from the site of dust generation, the less exposure there will be to high levels of asbestos. The best advice is to avoid or limit dust exposure as much as possible.”

People were told that the dust was limited to lower Manhattan. That was just not true. Paper was found from the WTC as far east as Long Island. If a piece of paper could travel that far, imagine how far the dust traveled, based on prevailing winds.”


George Carlin told a joke about how what use to be called “shell shock” is now “post traumatic stress disorder.” His point was adding more words to describe a situation is not always a good thing. We need to call the next phase of world trade center illness what it is - C A N C E R.

In my opinion, we’ve got work to do. The government and medical communities are studying the problem, but has yet to propose any real solutions other than ‘be strong’.

Regular cancer screening and treatment needs to be available at no cost for all exposed. Research needs to be done on how to effectively deal with these cancers. Consider “Sharks Don't Get Cancer : How Shark Cartilage Could Save Your Life” by William I. Lane and Linda Comac. Also look at hydrotherapy, stress reduction and the need for a healthy diet.

I am not a medical professional. I am a tough minded optimist. I lived in New York from ’72-98. I live in Arizona now. I LOVE NEW YORK ETERNALLY (and the tri-state area –it’s a total package).

Please share this information with anyone you know in the field. The problem is we're waiting for trends to appear rather than be pro active by letting folks know if they ate, breathed or drank the dust, their risk for cancer has increased and need to pay great attention to their bodies. Fuel them right. Hydrate. Know the cancer signs and immediately seek medical attention.

It’s taken me years of study, and experience with Edith’s squamous cell cancer, to reach these conclusions. Though I pray that I’m wrong, I couldn’t live with myself without sharing these observations from this search for solutions.

Caroline Myss in her book “Anatomy of the Spirit : The Seven Stages of Power and Healing” has a chapter “Wisdom Erases Karma.” It’s time to wise up on this issue.

Please let me know what you think and share this information with those who can help address the upcoming WTC cancer crisis.

We are overcoming now.


Mary in Edison NJ said...

I was diagnosed with COPD two years ago. I live in Edison, NJ, which geographically isn't very far from NYC. It only takes me 30/40 minutes to get to the city when there's no traffic. I have thought about the connection between my condition and the towers going down. I smoked 34 years ago. I quit when I was 22. I did work cleaning homes for 25 years and therefore did breathe in alot of cleaning chemicals. My husband is also starting to suffer with similar symtoms I started having 2 years ago. He was also a smoker years ago, was a auto mechanic for 20 some years but now has been working with computers for l0. I told him I suspect we were exposed to alot of bad stuff when the towers went down and due to our close proximity to the city I wondered if we were affected. So in your opinion alot of people in the tri-state area are still be exposed to potential health risks stemming for the towers going down? Did you have any respiratory issues prior to moving to Arizona and if you did was it helped by moving to that climate? My husband and I are considering a move because I'm convinced this area is not helping our situations or even causing them. I appreciate your candor and honesty in sharing your belief/concern for people in this area. I too believe we have all been exposed and possibly might still be being exposed to very lethal stuff.

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