A new study published online in the journal Chest, says New York firefighters exposed to toxins in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks lost, on average, 10 percent of lung function after 9/11, and they experienced little recovery over the first six years.
The article’s authors—public health, pulmonary, and epidemiology experts—say that follow-up into the next decade allowed them to determine the “longer-term exposure effects and the roles of cigarette-smoking and cessation on lung function trajectories.”Now, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks, most firefighters continue to show a lack of lung function recovery, the authors say.
The advocacy group Citizens for Extension of the Zadroga Act reports that more than 200 New York police officers and firefighters have died from 9/11-related illnesses and about 33,000 responders and survivors suffer a variety of ailments, including chronic respiratory conditions and gastric reflux. Medical researchers have identified more than 50 types of cancer linked to toxins released when the towers fell. While some responders and survivors became ill soon after 9/11, many of the 9/11-related illnesses took years to emerge. Tens of thousands of people were exposed to toxins and health experts expect illnesses to continue to develop.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, reauthorized by Congress in December 2015, provides health care, health monitoring, and compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors who suffer illnesses and injuries related to the September 11, 2001 attacks. These programs are crucial for many responders suffering from serious medical conditions as a result of toxic exposures on 9/11 and during the subsequent cleanup and recovery operations.
The reauthorization extends the World Trade Center Health Program, which had expired in October 2015, through 2090, the New York Daily News reported. The Victim Compensation Fund would have expired in October 2016, but the reauthorization extends the fund for another five years to provide benefits to first responders too sick to work. To be eligible to file a claim, individuals must register with the VCF by the applicable deadline, and the registration deadline depends on the individual claimant’s circumstances. The new deadline for filing the claim itself (and all supporting documents) is December 18, 2020.
The extension of the Zadroga Act was the work of a bipartisan group of legislators, led by members of the New York congressional delegation, including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, and Reps. Caroline Maloney and Gerald Nadler. Gillibrand was a leader in passage of the original legislation in 2010 and she led the coalition working for the extension. She called the Zadroga reauthorization, her “proudest day in Washington.”