The first death linked to mesothelioma cancer among 9/11 first responders has been reported in Pennsylvania. Experts say that the case may be the first of thousands of mesothelioma deaths among emergency workers who worked at Ground Zero in the days and weeks following terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.

The first responder in question, Nick Ursta, was a volunteer firefighter in Versailles, Pennsylvania. Following the attacks on the World Trade Center, Nick and his wife, Margaret, traveled to New York City with their local fire department in order to assist in rescue and cleanup at Ground Zero.

While working at the site, Margaret Ursta says that her husband was exposed to the thick smoke that was emanating from the site in the wake of the terrorist attacks. According to the World Trade Center Registry, smoke and dust from the World Trade Center contained a mix of toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemicals, including oil, lead, mercury, and metals.

Ground Zero First Responders at Risk of Mesothelioma Cancer

Another chemical lurking in the dust from the World Trade Center was asbestos, a naturally-occurring mineral that was used for decades as a fire retardant and building insulation. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that can affect the lining of the heart, lungs, abdomen, or testicles.

Although the widespread use of asbestos was discontinued in the 1970s — when the link between asbestos and mesothelioma cancer was widely publicized in the U.S. — older buildings like the World Trade Center contained significant levels of asbestos. When the asbestos in these buildings was disturbed after the towers collapse, massive amounts of asbestos fibers were made airborne, putting emergency workers and first responders at risk of mesothelioma cancer.

Although firefighters and other first responders like Nick Ursta were exposed to airborne asbestos at the World Trade Center more than 18 years ago, his case is the first mesothelioma death linked to toxic substances like asbestos that were widespread at Ground Zero. Normally, it takes decades after asbestos exposure before an exposed individual develops the first symptoms of mesothelioma. As a result, health and legal experts expect that hundreds or thousands of 9/11 first responders may also be diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in the coming decades.

So far, more than 14,000 first responders who were at Ground Zero in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have been diagnosed with cancer, including many cases of mesothelioma. Because more than 400,000 individuals were exposed to airborne asbestos at Ground Zero, these experts expect that many more first responders will be diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in the coming decades.

Free Legal Consultation for Mesothelioma Cancer Victims

If you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, you may qualify to file a lawsuit and receive compensation. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an experienced mesothelioma attorney to learn more about whether you may be eligible.

The lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend have filed lawsuits on behalf of thousands of victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Our law firm believes that all Americans should have the right to experienced, professional legal counsel to ensure that their rights are fully protected.

For more information about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit and to learn whether you may qualify to file a case, contact Hissey, Mulderig & Friend for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117, or by answering a few simple questions in our free case evaluation form located on the right side of this page.