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spaceAs the massive twin towers collapsed, downtown New York became enveloped in a thick cloud of dust and soot that entered buildings, air conditioning systems, cars and the respiratory system of the people nearby.
spaceEven at about a mile from Ground Zero, the dust accumulated into a 3-inch thick mess. As the tower collapsed, it spewed a mix of asbestos, fiberglass, papers and soot(airborne contaminants) into the air. It would be another week until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the air safe enough to breathe.
spaceAccording to a study published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in 2009, workers who were called to the site of the attacks had their lungs age 12 years because of the experience. In the study, 12,000 New York City Fire Department workers were given a forced expiratory volume test between 1997 and 2002 to determine the impact of breathing in the soot. The loss of lung function was higher in those workers who were present when the towers collapsed than it was for those who worked to clean up the site in the days and weeks following 9/11.
spaceIn the Spring of 2010, 10,000 workers who breathed in the toxins at Ground Zero settled a lawsuit for $657 million. Martin Fullam, a lieutenant who had a lung transplant and was diagnosed with polymyositis and pulmonary fibrosis, said, “This is something that affects the rest of my life. I’ll never work again. It has taken years off my life.” Added to the horrific nature of the attacks is uncertainty of the diseases they develop. For example, the family of 47-year old Ray Hauber, a Brooklyn firefighter who died of throat cancer in 2007, will never know if his disease was caused by his working at Ground Zero. Since the attacks and collapse were unprecedented in American history, there is no real data healthcare workers can look to in order to answer questions for rescue workers who were called to the site of the twin towers.

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The man (above middle) approached Shannon Stapleton of Reuters news service and said, "There's a reason why my life was spared and I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to find that reason."

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spaceAfter being caught in the collapse, Mychal Judge, the chaplain for the NYC firefighters, was carried away for emergency treatment. He did not survive. Judge spent his final moments in the lobby of the north tower praying for the firefighters stuck inside. After he observed trapped victims jumping from the building, he exclaimed, “Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!” A chaplain is a church official that helps minister to those not able to attend church. NYC firefighters had a chaplain because they are typically on call for extended periods of time and their schedules do not usually allow them to regularly attend church. His last act was to anoint firefighter Daniel Suhr.

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Because the buildings collapsed with such force, many New Yorkers found themselves in the middle of a nightmare as they struggled to outrun the dust, yet they could not afford the time to look back to see how close it was.

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An image captured from a the Landsat7 satellite shows the immense destruction of the attacks since the image was captured at about
11:30am EST on September 12th, 2001.

Discussion Questions
1. What were short and long term effects of this terrorist attack?