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Zadroga Act To Cover 50 Cancers

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The Zadroga Act is now slated to cover 50 cancers, as long as the cancer can be reasonably linked to the toxic dust that was released in lower Manhattan following the infamous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Following an extensive study, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) stated that it “favored” a large broadening of the existing 9/11 health program to include 50 cancers, which included 14 more expansive cancer groupings, said The Associated Press (AP). Free treatment will be available for first responders and residents diagnosed with cancer after exposure to the World Trade Center’s toxic cloud; large compensation payments may also be available under a new rule just proposed by federal health officials, said the AP. Qualification relies heavily on the cancer type and accompaniment of physician proof that the cancer might be connected to the toxic dust.

The Zadroga Act, passed in December 2010, reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for five years to provide payments for job and economic losses for first responders, those trapped in the buildings, and local residents, who suffered illness or injuries related to the toxic dust. Cancer was not an illness listed as a Zadroga Act-covered ailment. In March, the World Trade Center Health Program Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee recommended that certain cancers—respiratory and digestive system; thyroid, breast, ovarian, eye, oral cavity, and urinary tract; mesothelioma; melanoma; leukemia; lymphoma; soft tissue sarcomas; and all childhood and rare cancers—be reclassified as covered illnesses, said NewsInferno.

Although some argue that there is insufficient scientific proof of increased cancer rates in people exposed to the toxins at the Ground Zero site, some physicians and health advocates disagree, arguing that there were sufficient carcinogens to create a risk, said the AP. Some experts say the strain of adding cancer to the list of covered conditions under the Zadroga Act could place significant financial strain on the program, which was capped by Congress at $1.55 billion for treatment and $2.78 billion for compensation payments, said the AP, explaining that the amounts will not change, regardless of how many file. To date, some 60,000 people have enrolled in 9/11 health programs.

“We recognize how personal the issue of cancer and all of the health conditions related to the World Trade Center tragedy are to 9/11 responders, survivors, and their loved ones,” NIOSH director, Dr. John Howard, told the AP. The proposal is not yet final and will be open for public comment for several weeks—up to two month—before being finalized and will be available for revisions and abandonment during that time, as well, noted the AP.

Since the Act’s passage, at least two studies reveal that those exposed to Ground Zero dust are likelier to develop cancer, said NewsInferno. Last summer, a Lancet study of New York City firefighters revealed a 19% overall increased cancer risk in those who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Following that study, Dr. Philip Landrigan, a dean at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, reported that research conducted by his team and involving 20,000 firefighters, police officers, sanitation and construction workers, and others who helped out at the sight, revealed a 14% increased risk in cancer rates among Ground Zero rescue workers. Significant increases were seen in prostate, thyroid, and certain blood cancers, said NewsInferno.

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