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First responders on 9/11 suffering serious health problems

Over ten years ago, tens of thousands of men and women raced into the crumbling World Trade Center to find victims and start cleaning up the damage. Day after day, these first responders worked tirelessly to clean up the site. Sadly, this daily work at the collapsed towers meant that all the men and women were breathing in 2,000 tons of asbestos per day. Now, studies are showing that many of them are in the early stages of cancer and other asbestos-related diseases.

Researchers have been tracking the medical prognosis of roughly 30,000 people who were involved in the early response and cleanup. Of those they studied, 40 percent showed early signs of esophageal cancer. Forty percent also have sinus problems and 30 percent developed problems with asthma.

However, researchers, victims and nearby residents are also concerned that many people will develop mesothelioma. When the towers came down, thousands of tons of asbestos were released into the air. Workers and residents breathed in this dust every day for months.

Mesothelioma symptoms do not typically show up until at least 10 years after exposure. In some cases, it can take up to 50 years for a person to show signs of the deadly disease. That is why researchers are closely monitoring the first responders. They are looking for early warning signs, as we have just passed the 10-year mark. Those who have mesothelioma may start showing symptoms soon.

In addition to mesothelioma and other lung cancers that may develop, researchers also say that they are concerned that many of the victims will also suffer mental issues, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Source: Fox News, "The lasting health toll of September 11," June 10, 2012

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