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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood beside first responders, as well as elected officials and physicians, on Staten Island, in order to call attention to the importance of renewing the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Since the passage of the Zadroga Act in 2010, first responders have been able to receive free treatment for 9/11-related illnesses at the Mount Sinai WTC Health Program Clinical Center. Unfortunately, portions of the Act are set to expire in the fall of 2015, and in 2016. The Citizens for the Extension of the Zadroga Act feel the Victims’ Compensation Fund was insufficiently funded in order to allow all those left with 9/11-related injuries and illnesses to be adequately compensated. In light of the money left, if the Zadroga Act is not reauthorized, there could be thousands of victims left with disabling diseases and illnesses. These diseases and illnesses could result in an inability to work as well as staggering medical bills.

Cancers Associated with 9/11

Joseph Weibel, a New York City police sergeant who worked at Ground Zero, finally went to a doctor after losing 59 pounds in four months, and coughing up blood. Like many others, Weibel received a diagnosis of cancer as a consequence of inhaling the toxic dust and fumes which rained down on the city of New York after 9/11. The medical bills for these victims of the World Trade Center bombing can easily reach $20,000 a month, and prevent them from working. In the years since 9/11, as many as 3,700 individual cases of cancer have been linked to the World Trade Center bombing. From 2001 to 2008, the rates of cancer for first responders were 15 percent higher than those for the general public, and some research shows there is double the risk of cancer for 9/11 responders.

Thyroid, prostate, soft tissue and lymphoid cancers were especially prevalent. Until 2012, the laws which provided compensation for 9/11 first responders and survivors did not cover the monitoring and treatment of cancer, however today it specifies more than 50 types of cancer. Many experts were aware first responders at Ground Zero were developing cancers at a much higher rates than others even before the federal law was amended. Chief medical officer of the New York Fire Department, Dr. David Prezant, stated the site was highly toxic, and that the cement dust had a pH between 10 and 11, meaning it was “inhaled like powdered Drano”. A retired fire captain with lung disease and pancreatic cancer was awarded $1.5 million from the Victims’ Compensation Fund; he will receive 10 percent now, and the remainder in 2016. The fire captain said he hopes cases like his, “where we’re not expected to last long,” are rushed.

Gillibrand Notes a “Lack of Urgency” in Washington

Gillibrand notes there is a “lack of urgency,” in Washington regarding the fact that if the Zadroga Act is not reauthorized, thousands of those with 9/11-related illnesses and injuries will be left with no financial help and health care. Gillibrand says first responders answered the call of duty when our nation was under attack, and now deserve to be treated as heroes by Congress.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association believes the United States owes those who participated in 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts. In a heartrending statement, Lynch notes “As people streamed north, there was a confident stride in police officers and first responders pushing through the crowd, going toward the towers, not stopping, helping along the way. And then those same men and women…struggle to get up the stairs because they need the treatment.”  If the Zadroga Act is not reauthorized, more people will die as they are unable to receive medical treatment.

Turley, Hansen & Rosasco would like you to join us in supporting the renewal of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Should you have any questions about the Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act  or World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.