An advocacy group for 9/11 responders and clean-up workers, Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act, has released a video, urging Congress to renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The Zadroga Act provides treatment and compensation for those who were injured or became ill after exposure to toxins in the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
The World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund— key provisions of the act—will expire in October 2015 and October 2016, respectively, unless the Zadroga Act is renewed. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is leading the effort for the Zadroga Act renewal. Gillibrand was a sponsor of the original legislation in 2010.
According to the video, more than 30,000 responders, recovery workers, and survivors have been diagnosed with at least one condition related to the 9/11 attacks, and many suffer from multiple illnesses. The deaths of at least 80 police officers and 100 firefighters have been tied to toxic exposures at ground zero. Some 3,600 cancers have been diagnosed among responders and survivors. Because cancers can take many years to develop, doctors expect cases to continue to emerge for a number of years. The organization 9/11 Health Watch says 9/11-related cancer cases among rescue workers and responders have increased over the past decade, and this group has developed certain cancers such as prostate and thyroid cancer, leukemia and multiple myeloma at a significantly higher rate than expected in the general population.
In addition to cancers, many suffer from respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal illnesses, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions. Some are disabled and no longer able to work. The video emphasizes that without the Zadrogra Act programs, thousands of people will be devastated physically, financially, and emotionally.
The law firm Parker Waichman LLP has fought for years to ensure that the heroes of 9/11 receive the medical care and compensation they need. The firm was actively involved in the original effort to pass the Zadroga Act and is working, often along with the firm’s clients, to ensure the act’s renewal. Matthew J. McCauley, Senior Litigation Counsel at Parker Waichman, notes that 9/11-related illnesses “may not manifest for many years,” and many will need treatment well after October 2016. Dr. Ellen Koffler, Cancer Care Coordinator of the WTC Health Program, said those who are ill or may become ill “deserve to be treated as long as they live.” Joseph Zadroga, father of the deceased NYPD officer for whom the act is named, is concerned about those who have yet to be diagnosed with 9/11-related cancers. They cannot be allowed to “fall through the cracks,” Zadroga said. According to the video, 9/11 survivors reside in all 50 states and in 429 out of 435 congressional districts, making this a concern for the entire country.