By Andy Sheehan

MONROEVILLE (KDKA) — In the weeks and months following 9/11, New York building owners turned to a firm in Monroeville to analyze the dust that coated their facades and walls.

What they found was a cocktail of environmental toxins.

“If you could think of something that you wouldn’t want to be exposed to – it was there,” said Rich Lee, of the RJ Lee Group.

The firm assisted in the safe cleanup of those buildings and now 10 years later is helping a New York City police officer who almost lost his life when the buildings came down.

“He got about a block and half away and he was covered up, knocked over, got under a car,” Lee said.

On the night of Sept. 11, 2001, Officer Alonzo Harris took off his uniform and wrapped it in plastic. He stored it in a closet until now.

In the subsequent years, Harris developed respiratory problems. In search of reasons why, he sent the uniform to the Lee group to be analyzed.

“We found asbestos, we found dioxins, we found lead,” Lee said. “We found what we call, ‘The World Trade Center Signature.’”

A recent study found that in addition to respiratory ailments, first responders have developed a higher than normal incidence of cancer.

While the study is inconclusive, Lee believes there will be more reported cancers.

“Frankly it will be surprising if there’s not — to me,” Lee said.

So, 10 years and 300 miles from Ground Zero, the dangers of 9/11 are still being uncovered.

While the research goes on, the feeling there is that those first responders will be suffering from health effects for some time to come.

9/11: 10 Years Later
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