The new tower, still under construction, was lit with red, white and blue lights and the two bright blue search lights (echoes of the old towers) poured up into the low cloud cover. As I walked through Manhattan’s lower East side, the city was quiet. Police men were not allowing cars to dive past particular check points, and there were not a lot of pedestrians. Most fire department doors were open however, and there were warm and smiling faces inside.
As I passed a few of these fire departments, I tilted my head up and would smile as I passed by, attempting to convey my gratitude. I thought about all the hundreds of thousands of people that they helped at ground zero that day. I also though about the burden those people now carry. Not just the horrible memory of what happened, but the physical ailments so many responders developed.
Multiple myeloma is just one of the many diseases that fire fighters, police, volunteers, and regular people who responded developed. Most picked up a particular kind of chronic cough called World Trade Center Cough or 9/11 hack. Most need to take medication or be put on a respirator for it. The cough was caused by a complex mixture of dust and gasses that resulted after the towers collapsing.
“It was unprecedented in terms of the complex characteristics of the materials released,” said Paul J. Lioy, director of the Exposure Science Division at EOHSI, who wrote a book called “Dust: The Inside Story of its role in the September 11th Aftermath.”
Most of the materials included gypsum, concrete and manmade fibers, such as glass. Contaminants in particles included quartz, chrysotile asbestos, zinc, iron and lead, according to a scientific article by Lioy and his colleague, Panos Georgopoulos.
“The alkalinity, very large particles, thin fibers and gases were major contributors to what led to the World Trade Center cough and other health problems for workers who were there within first 12 to 72 hours after the collapse. No one will ever know what gases were in the air because there were no devices to measure them.”, Lioy said. 
In January, President Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. The $4.2 billion law will cover health care costs for responders and others for five years and provide compensation for victims’ families and people injured as a result of 9/11.
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