‘Second Responders’: Journalists Getting Sick From Toxic 9/11 Dust

Photo credit Gabe Palacio/ImageDirect

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – We already know toxic dust in and around Ground Zero didn’t discriminate.

We’ve heard about police officers, firefighters EMTs, volunteers and students who have been sickened—five first responders have died in the past week from 9/11 illnesses.

Now we’re hearing about another group that’s starting to bear the brunt of the toxic conditions after 9/11: journalists.

As workers ran out of the Twin Towers, police and firefighters rushed in and the journalists followed.

"The journalists are like second responders,” Vincent Novak said. “We’re not the first responders, we’re not going there to save lives, but we documented what was going on.”

Vincent Novak

Novak, now 71, was a broadcast engineer for NBC News when the Twin Towers were attacked. Now he has prostate cancer that’s been linked to World Trade Center exposure.

“We were kind of focused on the story. You wanted to be competitive. You wanted to get on air. You wanted to do your job,” Novak said.

He says he could see and taste the air on 9/11 and the days after.

“You think about it, but again you don’t know and you don’t act on what you don’t know,” he said.

Attorney Michael Barasch

Attorney Michael Barasch has more than 50 media clients with 9/11 illnesses.

“Guess what? They were breathing the same toxic dust as the firefighters and cops, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re coming down with the same 68 cancers,” Barasch said.