FDNY first responder deaths from 9/11-related illnesses now equal deaths from the attacks

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Exposure to toxic pollutants at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.


number of The number of New York City Fire Department first responders who have died from 9/11-related illnesses has reached 343, equal to the number who lost their lives on the day of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Two more FDNY members died from 9/11-related illnesses this September, shortly after the 22nd anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, according to a statement on the fire department’s social media.

Hilda Vannatta, a fire department emergency medical technician, died of cancer on Sept. 20, the department says.

According to her obituary, Vannata was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York City as a child.

The obituary said she joined the fire department in 1988 and worked as an EMT at Battalion 14-Lincoln Hospital for 26 years.

Retired firefighter Robert Fulco died of pulmonary fibrosis Saturday morning, according to the fire department, making him the second member to lose his life this week.

“We have known this day was coming for a long time, yet the reality of it is astonishing,” Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh said in a statement.

“343 of our heroes were lost in one day, and today, 343 more. The FDNY will never forget him. This is our heritage. This is our promise,” she said.

Kavanaugh said that in addition to the increase in the number of firefighters and first responders who died following rescue operations at Ground Zero, the number of illnesses linked to the World Trade Center attacks is also increasing.

According to the fire department, 11,000 firefighters are suffering from World Trade Center-related illnesses, including 3,500 from cancer. Exposure to toxic substances after a disaster increases the risk of heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer and other diseases.

“So many of our members came for us on that fateful day, and so many were lost. The legacy we create for them is one of honor, and of promise,” Kavanaugh said.

He added, “That’s why we continue to advocate for survivors, and we will never stop trying until all of our members receive the end-of-life care they deserve.”

There are currently more than 71,000 people enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry, which seeks to track the health of 9/11 first responders and others in the immediate vicinity of the attacks.

In addition to first responders, the attacks have left health impacts on workers who evacuated their workplaces at the World Trade Center, passersby, residents of nearby buildings, and volunteers who spent time at Ground Zero in the weeks that followed.

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