G.R.Averall 2017

The World Trade Centre

Asbestos and the World Trade Centre

The concept of the World Trade Center was designed in 1960 by the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Development association. They wanted to revitalize the low-rate street which was dominated by electronic stores. David Rockefeller, the founder of the association, pushed hard for the revitalization project, insisting that it would benefit all of New York.

Plans to build the center were started in 1962, and construction began in 1966. To create the site for the World Trade Center, which took up 16 acres of land, five streets were closed and 164 buildings were demolished. The north tower was opened in December of 1970 and the south tower was open in January of 1972. At the time of their construction, they were the fifth and sixth tallest buildings in the world.

Most people will forever remember what they were doing when the World Trade Center was struck by airplanes. September 11, 2001 is not a date that many will ever forget. Many sat riveted to their televisions watching as the horrors unfolded. Unfortunately for thousands of people, there are very real dangers that the World Trade Center catastrophe invoked, including health issues from dust and debris.

The dust and debris from the collapse of the World Trade Centers posed serious health hazards to the people who were exposed during the attack. Much of the dust from the World Trade Centers included asbestos, which was present throughout the materials in the buildings.

One of the risks associated with inhaling asbestos fibers is the future development of mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma is considered to be a rare type of cancer with approximately 2,000 to 3,000 new cases reported each year. The biggest issue with mesothelioma is that it takes anywhere from 20 to 50 years to present itself. In the majority of cases, the disease occurs in the lining of the lungs, but it can develop in the lining of the abdomen or heart.

Asbestos fibers are microscopic, thin and extremely durable. They are easily inhaled and once they become lodged in the linings of the lungs, heart, or abdomen, they often remain there for several decades. Due to their durability, the body is often unable to break them down and expel them.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding asbestos exposure, as many who have developed mesothelioma are contacting mesothelioma lawyersto help them with their case. While it is not impossible, most of those who were exposed during the collapse of the World Trade Centers will not yet be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. However, the risk of eventually contracting a disease is high and exposed victims should seek regular medical examinations from their doctor.

While the tragedy of the World Trade Center might be over for some, it is still a very real threat for thousands who lived near the site. The years to come will show whether the asbestos in the buildings have continued to cause further damages to those exposed.

Cleanup at Ground Zero

Most people watched their televisions in shock as the events of 9/11 unfolded. Tens of thousands of people were involved, and many continue to be affected from the attacks. For the workers who helped clean up the destruction, as well as those who lived and worked near the World Trade Center, one of the recurring concerns is asbestos exposure.

A fact sheet, which was produced by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, states "Asbestos was a major material used in the construction of the World Trade Center."

The effort to clean up the tons of concrete and steel took months. Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center, was an empty reminder of the disaster when the work was finally completed. In the debris, asbestos was present from the first 40 floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Many of the workers were unprotected as thousands joined in the massive cleanup effort.

The Use of Asbestos In It's Construction

For the workers that helped clean up the destruction and those who survived the 9/11 attacks, one of the recurring concerns is exposure to asbestos. Many of the materials that were used in the construction of the World Trade Center unfortunately contained large amounts of asbestos.

The New York Port authority had originally planned to use 5,000 tons of fireproofing that contained asbestos on the first 40 floors of the buildings. From floors 41 onward, no asbestos was going to be used. An article, which appeared in the New York Times on September 18, 2001, seven days after the attack, said:

"Anticipating a ban (on the use of asbestos in construction in NY), the builders stopped using the materials by the time they reached the 40th floor on the north tower, the first one to go up..." According to a spokesperson for the Port Authority, "more than half of the original asbestos-containing material was later replaced."

A fact sheet, which was produced by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health states:

"Asbestos was a major material used in the construction of the World Trade Center. That asbestos is a constituent of the dust and debris." An advisor was given to the emergency workers at ground zero that stated they should wear protective clothing and change out of work clothes before going home. It also stated that work clothes should be bagged at work and washed separately from other laundry to prevent asbestos contamination.

There was also some controversy that the lack of asbestos used in the World Trade Center contributed to the fast collapse of the buildings. It was stated, in a New York Times article, that non-asbestos fireproofing used to construct the World Trade Center would have been less effective than products that contained asbestos, which ultimately shortened the time that the people had to escape. For more information about the issues of cleanup in the aftermath of the attacks, please see The World Trade Center - Cleanup.

The long term effects of the World Trade Center disaster is yet to be known. This is largely because most asbestos-related diseases take at least 15 years to develop. Mesothelioma, for example, can take as long as 50 years before symptoms arise

Construction and design


Studies on lung burden have been conducted since the disaster:

Air sampling studies

Studies of exposure

New York agrees World Trade Centre 911 dust payout





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