Twenty years later, the “cleaners” of the World Trade Center have their health in pieces

Twenty years later, they are still paying the price. After the September 11 attacks, tens of thousands of people, including undocumented immigrants, got down to a colossal task: clearing away tons of debris. For months, they will breathe toxic and carcinogenic substances Since then, many suffer from chronic diseases, depression, post-traumatic stress. Sequelae of 2011 that poison their lives.

Lucelly Gil, an undocumented Colombian, entered the immense cloud of dust, born from the collapse of the twin towers, on September 15, 2001, in the early morning hours. For six months and up to twelve hours a day, the one who cleared the rubble of the World Trade Center will breathe, in the greatest ignorance, toxic and carcinogenic substances such as lead and asbestos. This task will make her forever unfit for work.

An hourly wage of 7.5 to 10 dollars

A survivor of breast cancer, one of the most common for women mobilized at the World Trade Center, she now suffers from pain in her arm. And to the physical pain are added ailments of the mind: Lucelly Gil is in depression. “I was going home thinking I was still cleaning (…) I was going almost crazy. Remembers the one who also remembers sometimes discovering human remains.

Among those mobilized for eight months, many immigrants, often undocumented, worked hours for an hourly wage of 7.5 to 10 dollars. Today, many of them are still in an irregular situation. “Health is priceless. So I believe that we must give papers to our comrades, to the community of September 11, and it must be done automatically, so that they no longer have to wait “, confides Rubiela Arias, another” cleaner ‘of the World Trade Center.

According to the Federal Victims Compensation Fund, more than 2,000 cleaners, rescue workers and police have already died of 9/11-related illnesses.

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