World Trade Center Health Issues


  • Were You Exposed To The Initial Dust Cloud When The World Trade Center Towers Fell On 9/11?
  • Were You Exposed To Dust In Or Near Your Office When You Were Called Back To Work Downtown After 9/11?
  • Were You Exposed to Smoke Drifting From The "Pile" During The More Than Six Months That Fires Continued To Burn At the WTC Site After 9/11?
  • Were You Exposed To Toxic Materials From The WTC Attacks In Some Other Way?
  • Individuals who were exposed to toxic materials on or after 9/11 fall into two main categories - first responders who performed rescue, recovery or clean-up work and office workers, residents or students who either lived or worked in Lower Manhattan or were called back to work locations downtown soon after 9/11. Most OSA members affected by 9/11 fall into the second group.

    In short, you did not have to be a first responder working on the “pile” to be exposed and have your health adversely affected.


    The World Trade Center Health Program was established in 2011 as a result of Congressional passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. The new WTC Health Program incorporates several pre-existing treatment centers and divides them into health programs for responders, survivors and firefighters. One of them, the World Trade Center Environmental Health Center (WTC EHC) evaluates and treats the medical problems of non-responders associated with the destruction of the World Trade Center and the resulting spread of toxic smoke and dust. The WTC EHC is a program of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation with locations at Bellevue Hospital, Gouverneur Health Services in Lower Manhattan, and Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens.

    The WTC EHC is the only center of excellence providing physical and mental health care services to people affected by 9/11 who were not first responders.

    Many OSA members worked downtown on 9/11 and in the weeks and months afterward, in close proximity to the World Trade Center site. Many were exposed to a range of toxic materials.

  • Some OSA members were exposed to the initial dust cloud when the towers fell.
  • Some were exposed to dust in their offices when they were called back to work as soon as a week after 9/11.
  • Some were exposed when cleaning took place in their offices while they were present.
  • Some were exposed when the smoke from the continuously burning “pile” drifted over the area where they worked during the more than six months that fires continued at the WTC site after 9/11.
  • Once again, you did not have to be a first responder working on the “pile” to be exposed and have your health adversely affected.

    If you are suffering new, worsened, or persistent physical or mental health problems that you believe are related to 9/11, and you were an area worker, resident or student, you are eligible for care at the WTC EHC. The WTC EHC works in cooperation with community and labor organizations and residents affected by 9/11, including our union.

    If you believe you have physical or mental health problems related to 9/11, call 1-888-982-4748 (1-888-WTC-HP4U), M-F, 9am-5pm Eastern Time, toll free, for more information. Please let the person you talk to on the phone know that you are an OSA member and that you learned about the program from the union.

    You can find more information about the World Trade Center Health Program and applications in English, Spanish, Chinese and Polish at this site.

    The application process requires that you fill out a form explaining the circumstances of your exposures to World Trade Center dust or smoke on or after 9/11. If the program determines, after you submit your application, that you are eligible for an initial visit to assess your health conditions and their connection to 9/11, you will be contacted by the program and told how to schedule an initial visit to the Environmental Health Center. This visit includes a comprehensive assessment of your health. Among the many conditions identified in patients at the Center thus far are new, worsened, or persistent respiratory problems, stomach and esophageal problems, skin conditions, and depression and anxiety. In mid-2012, the program added more than 50 cancers to the list of conditions that can be treated by the WTC Health Program.

    Treatment at the Center is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to you.

    Even if you presently have other doctors who are treating you for 9/11-related conditions, it is important to contact the Center and see their doctors. Center doctors, who have a vast amount of experience with 9/11-related health conditions, will work with your physician to help in your treatment.

    The health data collected by the Center is an important tool both in research to determine the scope of 9/11 health impacts and in ensuring that there is adequate funding for treatment for affected individuals. The confidentiality of your information will be protected.

    If you need additional assistance, you can also contact the WTC Environmental Health Center at 877-982-0107


    If you worked or volunteered doing rescue, recovery or clean-up work after the 9/11 attacks, you may be eligible to receive a free medical screening and treatment through the WTC Health Program's General Responder Program. That program is based at Mount Sinai Hospital and at other facilities in the Metropolitan Area.

    The General Responder program provides two kinds of services to World Trade Center responders:

  • Medical monitoring examinations. They follow the health of those who were exposed to World Trade Center toxins while taking part in the rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

  • Treatment services. No out-of-pocket cost treatment is available to WTC responders who suffer from certain illnesses. These illnesses may have been caused by WTC exposures.

    If you were a responder, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms at this time, it's important to get screened, so you can be eligible for the program if you happen to develop health problems in the future that are related to your work after the 9/11 attacks. Benefits counseling is also available.

    You can find more information about the World Trade Center Health Program and applications in English, Spanish, Chinese and Polish at this site..


    The New York City Department of Health maintains a website on 9/11 Health issues. The site, launched in 2007, "consolidates the latest information about scientific research and services, including where those affected can go for free treatment and medicine. The website also includes easily accessible research findings and treatment options for the different groups of affected people: rescue and recovery workers, residents, children, city employees and others. The new site provides, for the first time, a single source for information about the health effects of 9/11." To visit the website go to:

    You may also subscribe to a bimonthly e-newsletter with 9/11 health information by visiting this page and following the instructions to sign up.


    The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 also reopened the Victims Compensation Fund. Individuals who suffered physical harm caused by 9/11 can file claims with the VCF, which is a completely separate program from the WTC Health Program and is administered by the US Department of Justice.

    The Zadroga Act provides that individuals are eligible if they were present at the September 11th crash sites at the time of the crashes or between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, and suffered physical harm as a direct result of the crashes or debris removal. Personal representatives of those who died as a result of the crashes or debris removal are eligible to bring claims on behalf of the deceased individual.

    For those individuals who have suffered a physical injury, the VCF's final regulations define eligible physical harm to mean a physical injury to the body that was treated by a medical professional within a reasonable time from the date of discovering the harm. In addition, the physical injury must be verified by or at the direction of the medical professional who provided contemporaneous medical care.

    The final regulations provide that initially, these presumptively covered health conditions and diseases will consist of the physical injuries that the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program has determined to be WTC-related health conditions.

    Currently, the physical injuries, health conditions and diseases that are presumptively covered under the VCF are:

  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Chronic Respiratory Disorder - Fumes / Vapors
  • Asthma
  • Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS)
  • WTC-exacerbated Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Chronic cough syndrome
  • Upper airway hyper reactivity
  • Chronic rhino sinusitis
  • Chronic nasopharyngitis
  • Chronic laryngitis
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
  • Sleep apnea exacerbated by or related to the above conditions.
  • Low back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
  • Certain other musculoskeletal disorders defined as "a chronic or recurrent disorder of the musculoskeletal system caused by heavy lifting or repetitive strain on the joints or musculoskeletal system occurring during" the period between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002 or as determined by the Special Master
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Certain types of cancer

    Claimants who have a presumptively covered physical injury, health condition or disease (and representatives of individuals who have died as a result of such a presumptively covered physical injury, health condition or disease) that was caused as a result of September 11th and who are otherwise eligible may receive compensation from the VCF for economic and non-economic loss as defined in the regulations.

    You can read more about the Victim's Compensation Fund at this website.

    You can register for the VCF at this link.

    You may wish to consult an attorney in preparing your claim for the VCF.

    Please note that certain deadlines have already passed for the VCF depending on when you were diagnosed with a covered health condition. A summary of past and future deadlines can be found by reading this handout.

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