A new report from the New York Post is shining a light on the fact that people who were in the vicinity of Ground Zero after 9/11 are suffering from related illnesses to this day — and it’s not just firefighters and other first responders.
A story was reported more than five years ago about students who attended nearby Stuyvesant High School at the time of 9/11 and have been diagnosed with rare forms of cancer ever since.
Michele Lent Hirsch, 32, was featured in the report. She was a senior at Stuyvesant and “saw the first tower fall from a classroom window on Sep. 11, 2001. In 2010, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to be quarantined after she received iodine radiation treatment.”
“Studies have shown that a statistically significant number of thyroid cancer cases have been identified among World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers. The disease is included in the list of cancers eligible for health coverage with the WTC Victims Fund,” according to Post.
Other Stuyvesant graduates have contracted cancers and lung diseases that rarely strike young people (see video below).
Hirsch said she’s speaking out now in an effort to let others who live, work and go to school in the area know they’re eligible for government-funded health care to treat what are considered 9/11-related illnesses. Throughout her own bout with thyroid cancer, she had no idea that she was actually eligible for government-funded health treatment.
“It was kind of shocking to find out that other people have cancer,” she said, adding, “A lot of people assumed that young people would be fine. I was only 16 when 9/11 happened.”
Stuyvesant High School was used as a staging area by rescue and recovery workers after 9/11. The school reopened a month later, and there was heated debate at the time on whether the building was free of contaminants.
Attorney Michael Barasch represents 12 graduates of schools near the World Trade Center site who have cancer or lung disease. Half of them attended Stuyvesant. He also represents four teachers who are ill.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure there are others who are not aware of it,” Barasch said. “The only thing these kids did wrong was go to school. Unfortunately, they were breathing the same stuff as everyone else. It’s absolutely crazy. It’s heart-breaking.”
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