[…] Placido Perez is one of the thousands fighting deadly diseases as a result of exposure to Ground Zero. Doctors with the World Trade Center Health Program, which the federal government created in the aftermath of the attacks, have linked nearly 70 types of cancer to Ground Zero. Many people have fallen victim to cancers their doctors say are rare, aggressive and particularly hard to treat. “The diseases stemming from the World Trade Center attacks include almost all lung diseases, almost all cancers—such as issues of the upper airways, gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, panic and adjustment disorders,” says Dr. David Prezant, co-director for the Fire Department of the City of New York’s World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program.
With the exception of the Civil War battle of Antietam, more American lives were lost on September 11, 2001, than on any other day in U.S. history: 2,996 people were killed—265 on the four hijacked planes, 125 at the Pentagon and 2,606 at the World Trade Center and surrounding area. More than 411 emergency workers died on 9/11, and the total number of rescue and recovery workers who have died has more than doubled since the attacks, to 1,064 as of July, according to data obtained exclusively by Newsweek from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The wider population is also suffering: As many as 400,000 people are estimated to be affected by diseases, such as cancers, and mental illnesses linked to September 11. This figure includes those who lived and worked within a mile and a half of Ground Zero in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the vast majority of whom still don’t know they’re at risk. Mark Farfel, director of the World Trade Center Health Registry, which tracks the health of more than 71,000 rescue workers and survivors, says, “Many people don’t connect the symptoms they have today to September 11.”