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COPD Is Now Covered Under the Zadroga Act as an Independent Injury

Sep 7, 2016

COPD, also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is now an independent injury under the Zadroga Act. In other words, COPD is covered independently and without need of a prior diagnosis or association with any other respiratory illness for individuals who are making a claim under the Zadroga Act.

The Zadroga Act is comprised of the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The WTC Program provides treatment and monitoring and the VCF provides compensation. Tens of thousands of people suffering from 9/11-related injuries are treated through the program and even more are monitored.

In the aftermath of the attacks, 9/11 responders and survivors were exposed to many hazardous substances that included asbestos, pulverized cement, and other toxins and chemicals. In fact, toxic exposure has been tied to an array of serious, life-altering health conditions, including asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and scores of different types of cancer.

Previously, in July 2016, the September 11th Families Association explained that new-onset COPD became a covered injury under the Zadroga Act. At that time, only pre-September 11th COPD cases that were worsened by the attacks were covered. Meanwhile, mounting recovery workers and survivors of the terrorist attacks have been struggling with attack-related COPD for years. Now, COPD is covered without prior diagnosis or association with another respiratory illness under the Zadroga Act.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Activity describes COPD as a progressive lung disease that worsens over time and makes breathing difficult, even when attempting activities of daily living. COPD may cause coughing with large amounts of mucus, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing. In the United States, the term COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis and is known under the names chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive airway disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, and emphysema.

In patients diagnosed with COPD, there is reduced oxygen flow in and out of the lungs’ airways as the airways and sacs lose their elasticity (emphysema), the walls between air sacs are destroyed (emphysema), the airway walls thicken or become inflamed (chronic bronchitis), and/or, the airways make excessive mucus, potentially causing clogs (chronic bronchitis) that adversely affect breathing.

COPD is a major cause of disability, has no cure, and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Millions of people are diagnosed with COPD; many more people may be unaware that they have COPD because of how slowly the disease develops.

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