Experts: Deaths from 9/11-related illnesses to surpass toll from attacks
A growing number of Sept. 11 first responders and survivors are developing illnesses and dying from diseases related to their contact with toxic dust and debris at Ground Zero.
The World Trade Center Health Program, which offers health care to those directly affected by the attacks, says nearly 2,000 people have died following 9/11.
In a matter of years, some experts project that the death toll from related illnesses will surpass the number of people who died on the day of the attacks.
The agency reported last June that the number of people enrolled in its program climbed to almost 90,000. More than 10,000 of them have cancer, and many have multiple illnesses. But in the first few years following the 9/11, illnesses developed by first responders and survivors were ignored, according to former NYPD Detective Rich Volpe.
Volpe says he and other first responders had little knowledge of the impacts of the toxic dust and smoldering debris surrounding them. He did get sick years later and received a lifesaving kidney.
Last month, New Rochelle Officer Kathleen O'Connor died from an illness linked to her time at Ground Zero.
And while $7.3 billion is set aside in the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, published reports say there are concerns that funds could run out.