On April 24th, 2013, several news outlets, including the Daily News, reported the findings from a report which stated 9/11 first responders have a 15% greater chance of getting cancer than the rest of the population. The damning headline was from the findings of Mount Sinai Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program.
Previous studies revealed similar findings. In September of 2011, The Lancet published a study of New York City firefighters revealing a 19% increase in overall cancer risk. Furthermore, in March of 2012, Dr. Philip Landrigan reported a 14% increase in cancer rates among a group of 20,000 firefighters, construction workers, police officers, and other Ground Zero workers.
During and after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, many first responders rushed to the area to help the survivors and pick up the dead without the proper protection. Many died from different diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer. Oftentimes it was the lack of funds for proper treatment that sealed their fate.
The James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act was set up to provide financial assistance and health care to sick first responders. Unfortunately, this took almost ten years for Congress to pass. In addition, it wasn’t until 2012 when Congress finally decided to expand the Zadroga Act to cover various types of cancer.
The findings in this report are nothing new to the survivors of 9/11, the first responders, and their families. They have had to deal with these problems for years, and this report just solidifies what they were saying back in 2002 and 2003 when the issues were first discovered.
Many responders eligible for compensation through the Zadroga bill are still waiting to be paid as the process has been filled with setbacks. Officials in charge of the distribution of funds point to incomplete applications as the main reason for this payment delay.
Written by Lulaine Compere