This guest post comes to us from our colleague Edgar Romano at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP in New York.
Many courageous first responders, who saved lives at Ground Zero, have since been diagnosed with cancer, and yet the U.S. government does not pay for their treatment. This Saturday, September 10, CNN will air Terror In The Dust, an investigation by chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta into the consequences of the deadly dust produced by the World Trade Center’s collapse. Gupta speaks with 9/11 heroes and medical experts about the consequences of the carcinogen-filled dust.
A new study released earlier this week by the New York City Fire Department provides good evidence of a link between 9/11 first responders and cancer. The study showed a 32% greater incidence of cancer among firefighters who worked at Ground Zero than those who did not.
The NIOSH study concluded that the 9/11 debris did contain known carcinogens.
The U.S. government does not pay for cancer treatments of 9/11 first responders. This is because the administrators of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act made a determination not to cover cancer, based on a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The NIOSH study, published in July 2011 concluded that while the 9/11 debris did contain known carcinogens, first responders were not exposed to dangerous levels. The New York City Fire Department study provides new evidence that, hopefully, will cause lawmakers to reevaluate their decision.
It took 25 years to draw that connection between asbestos and mesothelioma, and in that time a lot of people died who might otherwise have been screened, treated, and might otherwise have been saved.
In an interview yesterday with John Stewart, a long-time supporter of the first responders and their cause, Dr. Gupta noted that “It took 25 years to draw the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma” and in that 25-year period, many people died without proper care or screening.
Dr. Gupta expressed hope that the Zadroga bill administrators would immediately acknowledge the newly released scientific evidence and give the go-ahead to compensate first responders who have since been diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Gupta also stated that if the link between the World Trade Center’s dust and cancer were officially acknowledged by the Zadroga bill administrators, early screenings for other responders could be authorized, potentially saving lives.
Representatives Charles Rangel, Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Peter King, and Steve Israel have filed a petition with the Zadroga bill Program Administrator that will require him to consider within 60 days whether or not to add coverage for cancers under the Zadroga Act. NIOSH does not plan to release a follow up study until July 2012.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to these first responders. We encourage everyone out there to watch Terror In The Dust, Dr. Gupta’s documentary on environmental hazards at Ground Zero, on September 10, 9:00 p.m. ET.
Edgar Romano is a Senior Partner in the Workers’ Compensation Department at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP in New York where he is actively engaged in litigating workers’ compensation claims. He has lectured extensively to labor unions and medical providers. Edgar is President of the Workers Injury Law and Advocacy Group and is on the Board of Directors of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Bar Association. He is a member of the Leader’s Forum of the American Association of Justice and Vice-President of the Workers’ Compensation Section. Mr. Romano serves on the Advisory Committee of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program at Mt. Sinai Hospital. He is listed in “Who’s Who in American Law” and was selected as a Super Lawyer for 2010 in the area of Workers Compensation by Super Lawyers magazine.