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Zadroga Act Help May Soon be Available for Cancer Stricken Ground Zero Workers

Mar 23, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee, tasked by Congress with making recommendations about which conditions should be covered under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act's Victim Compensation Fund, could recommend next week that 20 cancers be added to the list of Zadroga Act covered illnesses.  A draft committee report posted on the National Institute of Occupation Safety Health (NIOSH) website, and slated to be discussed by the panel next week, recommends that esophagus, stomach, colon, liver, skin, lung, kidney and other cancers be designated Zadroga Act covered illnesses.

Passed in December 2010, the 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, purportedly due to a lack of scientific evidence linking cancer to the toxic dust exposure, the disease was not initially included in the list of covered Zadroga Act illnesses.

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 the past year, evidence has mounted linking various cancers to toxic dust exposure.  Last year, for example, a study of New York City Firefighters found that those exposed to the dust were 19% more likely to suffer from cancer now.

Dr. Philip Landrigan, a dean at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, testified during a hearing before the panel last month about the findings of a yet-to-be published study by his team that reveals a 14 percent increase in cancer rates among rescue workers, including significant increases in prostate, thyroid and certain blood cancers.

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