A wave of Wall Street stockbrokers and traders are coming down with cancers blamed on the toxic dust and smoke of 9/11.
They’re joining ill Ground Zero first-responders in seeking payments from the $2.7 billion federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Of 622 cancer claims approved so far, the fund has awarded $15.5 million to 39 victims, a spokeswoman told The Post.
Officials would not give a breakdown of cancer victims, but 10,800 downtown workers make up the second-largest group of registered claimants after 39,500 Ground Zero responders. There are another 16,600 in smaller categories such as residents, students, child-care and health-care workers.
Finance workers engulfed in dust and debris from the Twin Towers’ collapse say the attacks — and returning to Wall Street a week later, when officials insisted it was safe — triggered their diseases.
“I couldn’t breathe. I was choking and vomiting up clumps of gray matter,” said Brian Cosmello, an options trader who was 24 when caught in the plume of the south tower’s fall. “I felt lucky to get away unscathed except for a few small physical injuries.”
He returned to the stock-exchange floor when it reopened the following Tuesday. “There was an ashy, smoky smell in the air for months,” he said. “It felt dirty.”
In 2009, at 31, the former University of Pennsylvania footballer was diagnosed with a rare leukemia linked to chemical exposure.
Cosmello, now 36 and a dad, has a less stressful job in pharmaceuticals in Wake Forest, NC.
Brian CosmelloPhoto: Jim Leggett
He works 40 hours a week, not the 55 to 60 he did on Wall Street. His daily chemo pill causes fatigue, nausea and cramping, he said.
The federal fund deemed Cosmello’s cancer eligible for compensation. He awaits a decision on an award based on lost earnings.
James Reilly, a NYSE floor broker for Merrill Lynch, was also caught in the WTC collapse. “For about two minutes, it was completely black,” he said. “After it passed, I looked like a cartoon character in an explosion.”
In 2012, Reilly’s daughter Justina urged him to see a doctor because he had lost so much weight. He had multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, since linked to 9/11, that normally strikes victims in their 60s or 70s. He was 52.
After stem-cell transplants, Reilly still is not cancer-free. He works in the produce department of a Wegmans supermarket in New Jersey — “the luckiest thing that ever happened to me.”
His grocery bosses show far more concern for his recovery than did those on Wall Street, he said.
Lawyer John P. Dearie, who represents Cosmello, Reilly and others, said such cases show the “toxic environment” on 9/11 and afterward was not confined to the Ground Zero pile.
“They were just members of the NYC financial community working in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Dearie said.