The World Trade Center, which was being built in 1971, had construction plans changed when New York City banned the use of asbestos in buildings. Mesothelioma a deadly cancer caused by asbestos exposure was becoming more well known. At that point construction of the World Trade Center was near the 64th floor of the twin towers. The use of asbestos was already reduced by the time construction was being done above the 40th floor in anticipation of the City of New York ban. Over 400 tons of asbestos had already been put into the towers. Original plans called for over 5,000 tons of asbestos to be used. Thirty years before the September 11 attack it was prophetically suggested by the inventor of the wet asbestos fireproofing spray, that if there ever was a fire above the 64th floor the buildings could collapse. On February 13, 1975 there was a fire on the 11th floor of the World Trade Center North Tower which was put out within a few hours. The Asbestos industry happily took credit for the outcome in the advertisement shown above about the benefits of asbestos in buildings. Many years later and fifteen years ago the twin towers of the World Trade Center came down, after terrorist hijackers crashed planes into the upper floors on September 11, 2001, Lower Manhattan was filled with toxic dust and many people had major asbestos exposure and were put at risk for Mesothelioma. The World Trade Center Health Registry estimates about 410,000 people were exposed to a host of toxins including asbestos during the rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts that followed 9/11. People most affected by asbestos at Ground Zero were people assigned to rescue survivors. These workers were among the first on the scene and the last to leave the wreckage. Search and rescue workers and others responsible for cleaning up the debris after the towers collapsed were also exposed.
September 11 rescuers, survivors and occupants of the area have suffered from asbestos exposure and illnesses from inhaling the asbestos and other toxins in the air. In addition to the fine asbestos powder which landed on September 11th 2001, the Boston Globe reported on September 14, 2001 that one test sample taken of the air in the vicinity of ground zero contained 4% asbestos which is four times the legal limit of 1% at which point it is considered unsafe. Cranes and bulldozers working in the area for clean up, continuously disturbed the asbestos dust for months. The destruction of the World Trade Center has expanded the risk of perhaps half a million people of developing Mesothelioma. Many people will in time develop Asbestosis or worse, Mesothelioma, which can only be caused by asbestos exposure.
Most large buildings up until the late 1970s were constructed with asbestos for safety reasons. The World Trade Center was opened April 4, 1973 and was filled internally with asbestos. That is how buildings were built. Not any more. There is no asbestos in buildings built today but people continue to live, work and attend school in asbestos filled older buildings every day. Asbestos exposure is still an everyday occurrence in Canada and the USA. The greatest danger from asbestos exposure comes when it is disturbed and released in the air to be breathed in by people in the vicinity. That is what happened on September 11, 2001. There is no reason to believe that the World Trade Center would have been saved or any less people would have died if the asbestos was used right to the top as planned. The heat of the fire was enough to destroy any steel structure with or without the protection given by asbestos. There are many lessons to be learned from the construction and 15 years ago the destruction of the World Trade Center , including the ones related to asbestos.