Researchers are also concerned about long-term health consequences of asbestos exposure in the wake of the disaster. Asbestos, principally chrysotile, was used in the construction of the North Tower during the early 1970's. While some of this asbestos had been removed over the preceding 30 years, hundreds of tons remained on September 11 and were blasted free.
Ambient air samples showed that asbestos levels in the WTC area were initially elevated following the September 11 attacks, but fell to within federal standards after the first few days. "More research is needed to determine whether long-term exposure to asbestos fibers might lead to an increased risk of lung mesothelioma, a rare cancer that has been linked to asbestos exposure," said Landrigan. "Previous studies have shown the short chrysotile fibers found in the WTC dust to be the predominant fiber in lung mesothelioma tissue."
Contact: John Peterson
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences