Almost two decades since 9/11, 10 times as many New York City police officers have died from 9/11-related illnesses than perished in the actual attack

Reuters

Nearly two decades ago, 23 New York Police officers lost their lives in the moments immediately following the fall of the twin towers on September 11th, 2001. In 2019, that death toll has climbed to 241. Its cause: lingering, previously unforeseen, illnesses related to the 9/11 attack.

When the two towers collapsed, a mix of lead, asbestos, mercury, and jet fuel, was propelled through the air. Those who were in the immediate vicinity of the attack, which included hundreds of first responders, breathed in these carcinogens. In extreme cases, victims experienced almost immediate cardiovascular and respiratory failure. For many more though, the deadly effects of those cancer-causing debris took time to present themselves.

Last year alone, 15 NYPD officers died of cancer and other illnesses believed to be related to 9/11. Since many of these illnesses require years to form, that number is almost certain to rise year after year.

“The unfortunate part is that number continues to grow,” Deputy Commissioner Robert Ganley told ABC News. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s very sad. It’s sad for the department. It’s sad for the families left behind.”

September 11 attacksMarty Lederhandler/AP

The discussion around 9/11 first responders gained renewed traction earlier this year after Kentucky Republican senator Rand Paul blocked legislation that would permanently renew the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund – an act passed by Congress meant to provide financial support for 9/11 victims and their families. Prominent public figures, including New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and comedian Jon Stewart, spoke out against Rand’s block.

In an emotional speech that went viral, Stewart, who spent decades forwarding the cause, called what he viewed as Congress’ inability to properly support sick first responders as “shameful.”

On July 29, President Trump formally renewed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. The new law authorizes $US10.2 billion to be used for first responders and their families for the next ten years and extends the fund until 2092.

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