The past two years have seen a huge increase in cancer rates among New York City police officers who were first responders during 9/11. In fact, the number of cases of cancer have far exceeded the number expected, according to a recent study. Staff from the NYPD, along with Columbia University, New York Presbyterian Medical Center and Weill-Cornell Medical College conducted the study, finding police officers who worked at Ground Zero had a staggering 50 percent more diagnoses of cancer than police officers in the department prior to 9/11.

In a sad twist, more first responders who attempted to help victims of the 9/11 attacks may eventually die from 9/11-related illnesses than the nearly 3,000 who died when the Twin Towers fell. Ironically, the study came on the heels of the lapsing of federal funds, which paid healthcare benefits for victims of 9/11. The New York Post was the first source to report the findings of the study, which was based on medical records of almost 40,000 police officers on the job between 9/11 and 2014. Some of the findings of the study include:

  • The most common types of cancers diagnosed among NYPD officers are breast, colon and prostate.
  • Eleven officers have been diagnosed with more than one type of cancer, with another 859 being diagnosed with one type of cancer.
  • Rare cancer diagnoses have seen huge spikes and are linked to the toxic dust the first responders were forced to breathe.
  • Brain and kidney cancers have increased threefold since 9/11 among the officers.
  • Thyroid cancers have doubled since 9/11 among the officers.
  • Diagnoses for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are up 50 percent.
  • More than half of the police officers who currently have cancer were at Ground Zero within 24 hours of the attack on the Twin Towers. It was during this time period toxic dust levels were at their highest.
  • Only about 16.5 percent of police officers who developed some type of cancer are or were smokers.

Toxic Cloud of Dust Rose Following the Collapse of the Twin Towers

Experts estimate more than 1.5 million tons of debris exploded into a toxic smoke cloud when the Twin Towers fell. This debris cloud hung over Ground Zero for days, changing colors from orange, to fluorescent blue, due to the chemicals in the air. The toxic smoke cloud included asbestos, dioxins, benzene and other known cancer causing agents. A report by Discover magazine reported nearly 70 percent of 9/11 first responders as well as many who lived in the area, are either ill with a serious disease like cancer, or suffer breathing complications and other respiratory illnesses. Federal officials believe some 33,000 first responders and survivors across the nation suffer from at least one illness or injury related to the attacks, with many suffering from multiple, severe illnesses.

Zadroga Act Set to Expire

The World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund were established in 2010, and lawmakers established the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2011, which combined the two. The Zadroga Act was named from James Zadroga who died from a respiratory disease related to the toxic dust cloud following the Twin Towers bombing. About 115 9/11 victims who developed cancer have received approximately $50.5 million in compensation from the Zadroga fund. Because Congress did not reauthorize the Act, the funding for the Zadroga Act will soon expire, leaving potentially thousands of 9/11 survivors and first responders without healthcare and compensation for their illnesses and injuries. Many believe passing a permanent reauthorization of the Zadroga Act would show real commitment to the “Never Forget 9/11” slogan.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer or a chronic illness after being exposed to hazardous chemicals during 9/11, it is important to speak to an experienced and skilled 9/11 cancer attorney. Turley, Hansen & Rosasco have the resources and experience needed to represent first responders and survivors of 9/11. We can help you understand all of your legal options and protect your rights to compensation.

We also encourage all first responders and their families 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.