2/3 of FDNY firefighters, EMTs who worked at WTC site have long-term illness: Report

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
FDNY: 2/3 of members who worked at WTC site have long-term illness
More than two-thirds of New York City firefighters and EMTs who responded to the World Trade Center have some kind of long-term illness, report finds.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Twenty years after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, more than two-thirds of New York City firefighters and EMTs who responded to the World Trade Center that day or worked on the pile of toxic wreckage have some kind of long-term illness, according to the latest snapshot of FDNY health released Wednesday.

Nearly 16,000 FDNY members were exposed to dust, particulates, noxious gases, chemicals, and fibers while working for more than 10 months in the rescue and recovery effort.

More than 11,300 of them have been diagnosed and certified with at least one WTC-covered condition for physical or mental health, from asthma and reflux to PTSD and cancer, the report from the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program said.

"This intense environmental exposure is directly related to many of the symptoms and illnesses," the report said.

RELATED: 'Eyewitness to 9/11: Behind the Lens' reveals untold stories, rare video of America's darkest day

WABC-TV looks back on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 to hear from the Eyewitness News journalists who covered the attack as it unfolded.

The most common ailment is gastroesophageal reflux disease, followed by lower respiratory diseases and upper respiratory diseases, affecting more than 40% of WTC-exposed firefighters and more than 19% of WTC-exposed EMS providers.

Officials say 3,097 members had at least one cancer certification, and some were diagnosed with more than one cancer.

"And while cancers continue to take a toll on our members, 83% of those diagnosed 5-10 years ago are alive today, a testament to the benefits of early detection and treatment," the report said.

The toll on the FDNY was 343 firefighters who were killed on 9/11. In the 20 years since, 254 FDNY members have died of 9/11-related illnesses.

John Feal worked the pile as a construction worker, and he lost his foot in an accident there five days in.

He started the FealGood Foundation to help first responders dealing with health issues, and the numbers are only going up.

"We're seeing it now 20 years later, where it's coming to a boil," he said. "And it's going to get progressively worse."

You can read the full report HERE.


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