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Cancer Stricken Ground Zero Workers a Step Closer to Zadroga Act Coverage

Mar 29, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

Another important milestone has been reached in the fight to obtain Zadroga Act compensation for cancer stricken Ground Zero first responders. Yesterday, the World Trade Center Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee voted to recommend that more than 30 different cancers be added to the list of illnesses covered under the Zadroga Act.

"This is round 3 in a 15-round fight," said first-responder and World Trade Center advocate John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, told the New York Daily News.  "It’s a victory that they added what they did. By the end, I think the right cancers will be on the list."

The panel voted 14-0 to recommend that "certain" cancers be added to the list of covered illnesses.  It then took other, sometimes narrow votes, to determine what types of cancers would be included in its final recommendation. 

At the end of the 4 and 1/2 hour meeting, the panel decided to recommend that cancers of the respiratory and digestive system, along with thyroid cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, eye cancer, oral cavity cancer, urinary tract cancer, mesothelioma, melanoma, leukemia, lymphoma, soft tissue sarcomas and all childhood and rare cancers, be deemed covered illnesses. The panel, however, declined to recommend that some other cancers, including brain, prostate and pancreatic cancer, be covered under the Zadroga Act because of a continued lack of scientific evidence. 

The Zadroga Act panel has until April 2 to submit its recommendations to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) director Dr. John Howard.  Howard with then have 60 days to decide which of the panel's recommendations will be adopted. 

Sickened Ground Zero workers - some of whom are too ill to work, and lack health insurance - have been pushing to have cancer added to the list of covered illnesses ever since the Zadroga Act was passed in 2010.  he Zadroga Act reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for five years to provide payment for job and economic losses for first responders, those trapped in the buildings, and local residents, who suffered illness or injuries related to the toxic dust.  However, cancer victims have not been eligible for Zadroga Act compensation because there was supposedly not enough scientific evidence linking cancer to toxic dust exposure at Ground Zero.

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