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World Trade Center Health Website to Provide Resources for Rescue Workers, Others Still Suffering As a Result of 9/11 Attacks

Sep 12, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP Six years after the World Trade Center attacks, New York City has launched a website intended to provide information on the health consequences of the disaster. Since the Twin Towers fell, several studies have found that thousands of rescue workers, residents and others continue to suffer from diseases tied to the toxic World Trade Center dust.

A study earlier this year conducted by the Mt. Sinai Medical Center found that 70-percent of World Trade Center emergency workers 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. And the New York City Department of Health recently 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. And the worst may not be over.  The toxic dust that enveloped so much of Lower Manhattan on 9/11 was filled with dangerous carcinogens like asbestos and dioxin. Public health authorities are already bracing for what might be the next wave of health problems related to the 9/11 tragedy - a surge in cancer and cancer-related deaths.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the creation of the World Trade Center health website during his weekly radio address on Sunday.  “We want people to know more about the health effects of 9/11 so that they can reach out for assessment and services,” Bloomberg said.

The new website provides health information, research and treatment options for rescue and recovery workers, residents, children, city employees and others affected by the World Trade Center attacks.  The website offers detailed information on where people can go to get evaluation and treatment and links to financial assistance providers, social-service and environmental groups, and others working on issues related to 9/11.  The site also provides additional resources for health care professionals.

The health consequences of the World Trade Center attacks are well documented, but little help has been provided to those still suffering.   Many rescue workers have been unable to work because of their illnesses, yet they have been turned down for workers compensation and other benefits.  Two bills currently in Congress would provide more than $100 million in additional funding to aid rescue workers, bringing the total allocated by Congress to $277 million.  But advocates for the workers estimate that the cost of caring for them could eventually reach $393 million each year.   They want the federal government to formulate a long-term plan to monitor the health of September 11 rescue workers.  Fortunately, Congress is set to begin considering such a program.  On September 18, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee will begin hearings on the medical monitoring and treatment of 9/11 first responders.  

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