The World Trade Center tragedy claimed its 2,753rd victim Friday when officials linked the recent death of a Manhattan inventor to the toxic dust cloud formed by the towers' collapse.
Dr. Charles Hirsch, New York City's chief medical examiner, said in a statement that Jerry J. Borg died last December at the age of 63 from the debilitating physical effects of a condition that produces tiny lumps of cells in various organs, which was caused by the dust that blasted through lower Manhattan and other parts of the city on Sept. 11, 2001.
Borg was in the street near the Twin Towers when he was caught in the billowing storm of debris particles that raced through the streets of Manhattan after the buildings fell. Since Borg's condition, called pulmonary sarcoidosis, was linked to the dust from the terror attack, Hirsch ruled his death a homicide.
Pulmonary sarcoidosis involves inflammation. If too many lumps of cells form in an organ, they can affect how it functions. The disease usually starts in the lungs, skin or lymph nodes. Its cause is unknown, although triggers such as dust or chemicals are believed to play a role.
Several studies have found an increase in sarcoidosis cases among city firefighters and World Trade Center first responders. And the cases have often been severe, said Dr. Benjamin Luft, director of the Long Island World Trade Center Monitoring and Treatment Program in Islandia, which follows about 5,000 first responders. Often, he said, sarcoidosis is asymptomatic or confined to the lung. But "in this population it is often more systemic and more severe," he said.
Borg, who lived for a time in Franklin Square, resided in an apartment on 51st Street in Manhattan. It wasn't clear why he was near the World Trade Center when the attack took place. Business records showed that Borg was the principal of Jer Borg Enterprises, which operated out of his home. In 2005 Borg patented a metal cage that could be used to protect people such as campers while they sleep, patent records show.
No members of Borg's family returned telephone calls seeking comment.
His death is the third Hirsch has linked to the effects of the Trade Center toxic dust storm. In 2007 he attributed the February 2002 death of attorney Felicia Dunn-Jones, 42, of Staten Island, also to sarcoidosis. In 2009 he tied the 2008 death from lymphoma of city employee Leon Heyward, 45, of the Bronx, to the terror attack.