U.S. Will Cover Cancer Treatment for 9/11 Responders

Posted on September 20th, 2012 by

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has announced that responders and survivors exposed to toxic compounds from the 9/11 wreckage at the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon are entitled to free monitoring and treatment for approximately 50 forms of cancer under the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

The Zadroga Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 2, 2011; however the initial act did not include any cancers on the list of eligible illnesses. In March 2012, the World Trade Center Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee recommended that dozens of cancers be added to the list of illnesses covered under the Zadroga Act.

The committee noted that 15 compounds found in the smoke, dust, and gas at the WTC site are classified as known carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Furthermore, 37 additional compounds are classified as reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans, according to the U.S. National Toxicology Program. What’s more—anecdotal evidence indicates that responders and survivors have high levels of inflammation, which is linked to an elevated risk of cancer.

The committee recommended that the act cover cancers that meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Cancers caused by any of the 15 compounds classified by the IARC as human carcinogens
  • Cancers where data has documented a link with high levels of inflammation
  • Cancers that epidemiology studies have indicated occur more frequently in responders than in the general population (Multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have been documented to occur in unusually high levels in responders who worked at the WTC site.)

Responders to the attack were exposed to a complex mixture of chemicals, including combustion products, organic debris, cement dust, glass fibers, asbestos, crystalline silica, polycyclic aromatic hyrdrocarbons, dioxins, and much more. In total, responders were likely exposed to at least 287 chemicals or chemical groups. Malignancies caused by the compounds in the debris, include respiratory system cancers and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, and liver.

The addition to the act paves the way for nearly 70,000 surviving responders to receive access to healthcare for the devastating effects of exposure to toxic compounds.

References:

Press Release: Parker Waichman LLP Applauds NIOSH Decision to Recognize Link Between Toxic Ground Zero Dust and Cancer, Adds 50 Cancers to the List of Illnesses Eligible for Zadroga Act Coverage. September 10, 2012. Available at: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prwebfirstresponderscancer/092012/prweb9888272.htm

World Trade Center Health Program Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (WTC-STAC). Statement from WTC Program Administrator John Howard, M.D. WTC Final Rule Statement. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/wtc/stac/cancer.html

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Tags: General, News, Other News Topics (not Types of Cancer)

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