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Bloomberg Calls on Feds to Help Sick World Trade Center Rescue Workers, Others

Apr 18, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

The federal government should be paying the medical bills of World Trade Center rescue workers and New York City residents sickened because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday.  Bloomberg wants the US government to spend at least $150 million a year to help these people, many of whom are still suffering health problems because of toxic dust that blanketed lower Manhattan for weeks following the collapse of the twin towers.

Many World Trade Center rescue workers and other people in the vicinity of the 9/11 attacks have been a reporting a host of health problems since the tragedy. A study by the Mt. Sinai Medical Center found that of 9,000 emergency workers, 70-percent had suffered some type of lung ailment after the attacks, and that 60-percent still faced respiratory problems. In May the FDNY reported that cases of the rare lung disease sarcoidosis had risen dramatically among firefighters and EMS workers who had spent time at Ground Zero.

World Trade Center sickness have not just been restricted to emergency responders.  The New York City Department of Health last year found that one in eight first responders still suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Even children have not been immune from the effects of the deadly dust, as a recent report said that of 3,100 children enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry; nearly half had developed breathing problems three years after the attack.

Unfortunately, many of these people have had little help in dealing with their illnesses.  The federal government created a $1 billion insurance fund to help ground zero workers sickened by the toxic fumes and dust released when the World Trade Center was destroyed. The fund, however, has been beset by lawsuits and criticized for the lack of payments to sick workers.

New York City is also facing hundreds of lawsuit filed by sick World Trade Center rescue workers.  The city, along with the Port Authority, had tried to convince the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to give them immunity from nearly 8,000 workers’ claims.  But in March that panel ruled against the city, after having determined the immunity claims raised by the city were so complex that they could only be resolved by further litigation.


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