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World Trade Center Emergency Workers
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First Responders Continue to be Affected by Health Issues

Aug 17, 2016

The result of the million tons of toxic alkaline dust released in the aftermath of the Twin Towers' September 11, 2011 collapse continue to plague many first responders.

Those affected were exposed to a mixture of toxic chemicals, such as dust, glass shards, and carcinogens such as benzene, asbestos, and dioxin. After 9/11, many first responders, as well as volunteers and others who worked at the World Trade Center site, developed lung and sinus problems, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, among additional health problems including post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Another serious concern is cancer, citing elevated rates of certain types of the disease including multiple myeloma as well as other cancers.

Accusations have been made that improper training, lack of respirators and ill-fitting masks have, citing a lack of coordination and calling it a "tragic missed opportunity," may have caused or contributed to many of the recurring health problems still in evidence today.

Early on, then-Senator Hillary Clinton, along with other politicians, supported the Queens World Trade Center Health Program which was responsible for treating 3,000 police officers, construction workers and other responders. Their ideas turned into a treatment and monitoring program that led to the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention World Trade Center Health Program. There are now seven clinics in the New York City area where responders can go for checkups or federally funded medical treatment. The clinics are backed by the Zadroga Act which passed in 2010 and was signed into law the following January.

The Zadroga Act was named in honor of a policeman who worked at Ground Zero and later died of respiratory disease. In 2015, the Zadroga Act was extended to 2090.

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