Western New Jersey

Expert: Those exposed during 9/11 cleanup more likely to develop cancers, respiratory diseases

Thousands lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

Thousands of others risked their own health to help. We're now learning how much they risked. 

"Those dust exposures not only happened day of, but re-suspended during cleanup. We know there were over 100 different potentially cancer-causing agents in those exposures," said Dr. Judith Graber, a professor at Rutgers University's School of Public Health.

She spent two and a half years researching health risks tied to emergency responders and cleanup crews in the 9/11 aftermath that carried on for nine months. 

She found that those exposed to ground zero were more likely to develop head and neck cancers and respiratory diseases than the general population. As much as 70% more likely. 

"We see now an increase we didn't see before, that has to do with the long time it takes for these cancers to develop, and sadly we do expect more to develop over time," Graber said.

She says other studies turned up similar findings. Graber hopes that information will inspire research into preventative measures. 

Graber says another big takeaway of her research and others like it is the importance of medical monitoring after traumatic events such as 9/11, in part so that people affected can get medical care

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