NEW YORK CITY — Thousands of students returned to class in the area around Ground Zero within a month after the terror attack on 9/11.
Stuyvesant High School is just a few short blocks from Ground Zero. Some former students are experiencing the deadly and debilitating effects of the toxic dust to which they were exposed.
Lila Nordstorm, 35, was a senior at Stuyvesant on 9/11. She's suffered from severe asthma and digestive issues. A classmate recently passed away from gastric cancer.
"We have classmates who have had breast cancer, thyroid cancer, very rare bone cancers," she said.
Studies on first responders found rates of Hodgkin's lymphoma are more than 50 percent higher in their group than in the general population. There hasn't been the same focus on the millennials who were students at the time.
Children who breathed in the ash and fumes saturating the air of Lower Manhattan after 9/11 show early signs of heart disease risk, according to a 2017 study. Researchers analyzed 123 children who came in direct contact with the “cloud” of toxic debris. They had elevated levels of artery-hardening fats in their blood compared to other children.
Nordstorm testified before Congress about the impact toxins from Ground Zero have had on students who went to school in the area.
A barge next to her school was filled with materials from Ground Zero. The school's vents weren't cleaned until the next summer.
Nordstorm is relieved the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act has been extended until 2090, ensuring that treatment for 9/11-related illnesses will be covered.
"We were sick of having to go back to Washington all the time," she said.