9/11 first responders, workers continue to fall ill as 12th anniversary of tragedy is marked

11 Sep 2013 by under Events, Legal, News, People

firefighters at WTC site 100x100 9/11 first responders, workers continue to fall ill as 12th anniversary of tragedy is markedToday Americans pause to remember the tragic events of September 11, 2001, when terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., along with a failed attempt that downed a jetliner in a field in Pennsylvania, changed our nation forever. But as we stop to think of those who lost their lives on that day, the lingering effects of toxic debris at in New York continue to plague first responders and workers who cleared the debris. Many others also were exposed to toxins at the Pentagon and the plane crash site.

Long-term health effects resulting from the exposure to toxic chemicals may include mesothelioma, serious respiratory disesases, cancer, asthma, kidney disease, heart disease and more. At Ground Zero alone, people were exposed to more than 2,500 different contaminants, including more than 400 tons of asbestos, 90 thousand liters of jet fuel containing carcinogenic Benzine, lead, cadmium, mercury, PCBs, PAHs and crystalline silica.

John Feal runs the FealGood Foundation, which is a nonprofit whose mission it is “to assist First Responders or any individual who may have been injured, physically or mentally, as a direct result of their rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts at the World Trade Center site following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.” He told Reuters that in just the last seven weeks, three New York City police officer, two firefighters and a construction union worker who worked at Ground Zero died of cancer or respiratory illnesses. Speaking about the 9/11 anniversary, Feal told Reuters, “2,751 lives were lost that day. That’s sad, but they didn’t suffer long. These first responders have been slowly dying for 11 years.”

At least 20,000 Ground Zero workers are being treated and 40,000 people are being monitored by the World Trade Center Health Program, according to the Reuters report.

The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program provides medical monitoring and treatment for responders at the WTC and related sites in New York City, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Penn., as well as survivors who were in the New York City Disaster Area. The WTC Health Program is administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and was established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.

Title II of the reactivates the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) of 2001 that operated from 2001-2004 and requires a Special Master, appointed by the Attorney General, to provide compensation for any individual who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes. Personal representatives of those who died as a result of the crashes or debris removal are eligible to bring claims on behalf of the deceased individual.

According to the Zadroga Act, in order to be covered by the VCF, your physical harm (or death) must have been a result of September 11th. Traumatic injuries incurred as a result of the attacks are eligible “physical harm.” In addition, certain latent health conditions and diseases are eligible. The final regulations provide that initially, these presumptively covered health conditions and diseases will consist of the physical injuries that the WTC Health Program has determined to be WTC-related health conditions. Currently, the physical injuries, health conditions and diseases that are presumptively covered under the VCF are:

  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Chronic Respiratory Disorder – Fumes / Vapors
  • Asthma
  • Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS)
  • WTC-exacerbated Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Chronic cough syndrome
  • Upper airway hyper reactivity
  • Chronic rhino sinusitis
  • Chronic nasopharyngitis
  • Chronic laryngitis
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disorder (GERD)
  • Sleep apnea exacerbated by or related to the above conditions.
  • Low back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
  • Certain other musculoskeletal disorders defined as “a chronic or recurrent disorder of the musculoskeletal system caused by heavy lifting or repetitive strain on the joints or musculoskeletal system occurring during” the period between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002 or as determined by the Special Master
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Certain types of cancer

Mesothelioma was included in the types of cancer covered by the Zadroga Act on Oct. 12, 2012.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is approaching an important deadline. Anyone who knew or had reason to know of physical harm or illness resulting from the 9/11 attacks before October 3, 2011 is required to register by October 3, 2013. Registration preserves a person’s right to file a claim in the future (before the Fund ends on October 3, 2016). Registration is not the same as filing a claim and does not commit anyone to filing a claim even if they have registered. Anyone uncertain about when their illness began should register by the October 3, 2013 deadline to preserve their right to file a claim.

For more information about how to register for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, visit their website at www.vcf.gov. For information about the WTC Health Program, including how to apply, information on WTC health effects and research, and program resources visit www.cdc.gov/wtc. To contact the WTC Health Program call 1-888-982-4748 or email wtc@cdc.gov.

Sources:
myMeso
FealGood Foundation
Huffington Post
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
World Trade Center Health Program

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