What was in the dust?

The collapse of the World Trade Center towers resulted in a large dust plume that engulfed all of lower Manhattan and sections of downtown Brooklyn. After the collapse of the building, fires continued to burn at the WTC site and were not completely extinguished until December 2001.

The dust cloud was a complex mixture of different chemicals primarily composed of large, coarse particles that were highly alkaline, with a pH between 9.0 – 11.0. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified 287 different chemicals in the dust, including:

Pulverized building materials and building contents:

  • Concrete
  • Cement
  • Fiberglass
  • Asbestos
  • Silica
  • Organochlorine pesticides
  • Heavy Metals
  • Dioxins

How were fire fighters exposed?

Fire fighters who responded to the WTC attack are usually separated into two different exposure groups:

  1. Fire fighters who arrived at the scene the morning of 9/11 were caught in the dust cloud resulting from the building collapses had short term exposures to very high concentrations of dust.
  2. Fire fighters who arrived after the building collapses and worked at the recovery site had chronic, long-term exposures to dust and vehicle exhaust from construction equipment.

What are the health effects related to WTC rescue and recovery work?

Fire fighters and other rescue and recovery workers who worked at the WTC and other 9/11 sites continue to experience health effects as a result of their exposures. Respiratory health conditions including asthma, chronic cough, gastrointestinal reflux, and sinus problems are commonly reported among WTC fire fighters and other recovery workers. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety are common mental health effects among fire fighters and other workers who responded to the 9/11 attacks.

Covered Conditions

The WTC Health Program provides treatment for a specific list of physical and mental health conditions that have been determined to be caused by exposure to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The program also covers medically associated health conditions, which are caused by the progression or treatment of a covered condition.

As a member of the WTC Health Program, you receive free treatment for WTC-related health conditions. The list of conditions is based on scientific review of exposures at the WTC site and associated health effects. Conditions must be certified as having been caused, contributed to, or aggravated by the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Fire fighters enrolled in the WTC Health Program receive free treatment if certified with any of the following health condition categories:

  • Acute Traumatic Injury
  • Aerodigestive Disorders
  • Cancers
  • Mental Health Conditions
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders

The full list of health conditions is constantly updated, so for more information on all covered health conditions – click here.