9/11-linked cancers to be covered by Zadroga Act

Published on Intrepid Report, by Jerry Mazza, September 14, 2012.

In days surrounding the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the federal government is expected to add 50 types of cancer to the list of World Trade Center-related diseases covered by the Zadroga Health and Compensation Act. This will come as good news to those first responders suffering from cancer-related illness, and even those close to passing, in that their pain will be properly cared for and eased.   

As I wrote in my article 9/11 first responder death toll nears 1,000 on April 7, 2011, the death toll of first responders was nearing 1,000. Local politicians were demanding that autopsy standards be developed to pinpoint the causes. The number of Ground Zero first responders’ deaths had risen past 916 to date then, yet oddly no one knew what really killed them.

Now, after years of struggling to enact the $4.2 billion Zagroda bill, the legislation has been reopened by the federal Victim Compensation Fund to provide economic relief to those harmed by the attacks by cancer as well. The caveat now is will the bill receive additional monies to cover those with cancers, or will everyone else covered, including cancer victims, receive smaller benefits.

Attorney Michael Barasch, who along with Noah Kushelefsky is handling thousands of first responders and residents’ cases, told NY-1 “That the National institute for Occupational Safety and Health is set to formerly announce [this week] that “50 types of cancer will be covered under the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.”

Cancer was not covered by the $4.3 billion World Trade Center health program created under the original Act. September 11th “health czar” Dr. John Howard said at the time there was not enough evidence linking cancer to the toxic smoke from the World Trade center.

Dr. Howard did say at the time there wasn’t enough evidence linking cancer to the toxic smoke from the WTC. Advocates, including this writer, say the change is long overdue … //

… In fact, by September 13, 2001, the inadequate ambient air samples led the EPA to claim the air was “Below levels of concern.” Yet, many contaminants had simply not been tested for. The EPA ombudsman, said, “You can’t find what you don’t look for.” So bad marks must be given to the EPA, old news as we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and living survivors are battling for their lives as 916 of them have lost that battle.

Also, Michael Brown, who was deputy director of FEMA at the time, consistently told New York and the world there was “No reason for the general public to be concerned.” Of course, former President Bush, V.P. Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared without facemasks to make sure no one asked for one or to use. Talk about role models. Former President Bush’s head of the White House Environmental Council, James Connaugton, previously represented large corporations like ARCO in disputes about cleaning up toxic waste sites. Adding insult to injury, he had formerly worked against the EPA, such as it was.

But as early as September 14, 2001,, the EPA started reading out “samples [that] showed levels of asbestos ranging from 2.1% to 3.3% …” (The EPA conceded back then that a 1 percent level could be defined as an asbestos-contaminating material.) The difference between 1 percent and 3.3 percent was serious enough, as time has shown, to hurt or kill people, especially given repeated exposure. So any numbers games here were criminal. In contrast, the first responders working at the Pentagon site in Washington, D.C., had to wear respirators to go to work at the disaster site, absolutely, no questions asked. But in NYC, we had to get Wall Street working again, so the money not lives came first.

Returning to Dr. Howard, he now is saying, “A lot of these people aren’t going to live to see any money from this at all. But hopefully at least they’ll get some treatment which will alleviate some of their symptoms and might even save some of them.” Said Barasch, “For a lot of these people though this is a victory that only their families will be the benefit of . . .” So be it.

In addition, affected recovery workers and some city residents from the area surrounding the WTC are eligible for free health treatment. Again, unless additional funds are allotted, all payments to individuals will be lower. Fortunately, and if we can believe it, lawmakers have said that if cancer was discovered they planned to ask the federal government for more money. Kudos go to Senator Kirsten Gellibrand, who has done a noble job leading the fight for additional monies. Let’s hope the stalled Congress remembers its ailing and lost heroes this time. Unfortunately, Paul Ryan voted against any more monies for the first responders. So much for his respect for patriots.
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