Growing Number of Cancer Cases Among 9/11 RespondersSep 4, 2014
Rescue workers and volunteers who assisted in rescue and recovery efforts after the 9/11 terrorist attacks now face the growing risk of developing mesothelioma (a form of lung cancer) and other cancers because of exposure to asbestos and other toxic substances.
Asbestos used in the construction of the twin towers was released into the air when the buildings collapsed and it was inhaled by workers. Medical experts report that more than 2,500 first responders and recovery workers have been diagnosed with cancer, according to the New York Post. The World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital reports that the cancer cases include police officers, firefighters, EMTs, sanitation workers and other city employees. Many of these individuals are eligible for compensation under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
Congress passed the Zadroga Act in 2010 to provide health monitoring and compensation for rescue and recovery workers and New York residents harmed by toxic substances at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Those with listed cancers and other illnesses can file claims through the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Deadlines for filing depend on when the illness was diagnosed and those diagnosed on or before October 12, 2012 must register with the fund by October 12, 2014. All claims must be filed by October 3, 2016.
The Zadroga Act also established the World Trade Center Health Program, which offers monitoring and treatment at no cost to eligible workers, volunteers, and survivors in the New York City disaster area. John Howard, the program’s administrator, said the program serves over 67,000 people, many of whom “continue to confront 9/11-related health conditions over a decade after the disaster.”
The VCF web site (www.vcf.gov) contains a detailed listing of eligible cancers and conditions, along with filing information in a number of languages, including Spanish, Polish, and Chinese.