Crystals of smashed cement, the perfect size for lodging in lungs,
made up most of the dust rising from the World Trade Center.
When ten million of tons of building, mixed with 91,000 liters of jet fuel, collapse into a smoking heap, an incredible variety of pulverized materials rise into the air. Though no one took samples of the plume that rose up from the World Trade Center on 9/11, samples of the dust that filtered down in the following days and gas emanating from the pile have given a glimpse of what rescue workers and others breathed in: heavy metals from computers, cellulose from paper, shards of metal and stone from the buildings’ walls, calcium carbonate from the tons of smashed cement, fibers from rugs, fragments of glass and burned hair.
After six years of legal wrangling, a New York judge is set to approve a $657 million settlement package for thousands of rescue workers and volunteers who became sick after working on the cleanup of the World Trade Center site. The workers, who had sued the City of New York and other officials for their subsequent illness, can now settle their injury claims. Marc Bern, one of the lawyers representing the workers, said many of his clients were “first responders” at the site when the twin towers collapsed on September 11, 2001. After the work, some found their health deteriorated, with many suffering from asthma, other respiratory issues and blood cancer [CNN].
The money for the claims will come from a $1 billion federal grant to the WTC Captive Insurance Co., created to indemnify the city and its contractors against the flood of lawsuits [Daily News]. The workers have 90 days to look through the proposed settlement and decide if they like it. If 95 percent of the plaintiffs approve of the package, then the settlement will stand at $575 million. If 100% approve, the settlement goes up to $657 million [Daily News].