The 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 bring a sobering reminder – soon, more people would have died from post-9/11 related illnesses than on 9/11 itself.
That figure was provided to the Seattle Times in 2018 by The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and World Trade Center Health Program. Officials at both organizations stated that the unofficial number of people who died from 9/11-related illness was likely close to 2,100.
It is expected that by the 20th anniversary of 9/11, more people will have died from 9/11-related illnesses than the 2,977 people who died that fateful day.
The toxic dust released on 9/11
When the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11, it released a 400-ton plume of dust that lingered over Lower Manhattan for months. In that mix were toxins like asbestos lead, mercury, benzene, dioxins, and other hazardous carcinogens.
An estimated 410,000 to 525,000 people, including more than 90,000 workers and first responders, were exposed to the toxic dust during the rescue, recovery and cleanup efforts that followed the attack.
To date, nearly 10,000 first responders and others who were in the World Trade Center site have been diagnosed with cancer.
The Uniformed Firefighters Association of New York now lists 204 FDNY deaths due to 9/11 illnesses over the past 18 years.
241 New York Police Department (NYPD) officers have died in the past 18 years – more than 10 times the number who perished on 9/11.
Compensation and support for 9/11 first responders
In July 2019, the long and bitter campaign to compensate 9/11 first responders who were diagnosed with 9/11-related diseases finally concluded when President Trump signed a permanent extension of funding for the Victim Compensation Fund into law. The Victim Compensation Fund will authorize $10.2 billion for the next 10 years along with additional funding until 2090 which will cover surviving 9/11 first responders for their entire lives.
Former late night talkshow host and comedian Jon Stewart played a pivotal role in pushing for the Victim Compensation Fund to be passed. In an impassioned plea before Congress in July 2019, Stewart provided testimonies detailing the plight of 9/11 first responders. Stewart’s emotional testimony brought the bill back into the national spotlight.
In a populace that has been increasingly polarized along partisan lines, Stewart’s speech brought a brief period of national unity, receiving praise and support from both sides of the political divide.