Rescue and recovery workers who responded to the September 11th World Trade Center (WTC) terrorist attacks may be at an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer and, now, those who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer can receive coverage under the Zadroga Act.
The Zadroga Act, which was passed in December 2010, reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for five years to provide payment 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. Now, prostate cancer has been added to the list of cancers covered under the Zadroga 9/11 law, according to Newsday. The deadline for registering for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is about two and a-half weeks away.
Nearly 12 years after the terrorist attacks, a study from the Mount Sinai Medical Center revealed a 15 percent increase in cancer rates in first responders, when compared to people not exposed to the toxins at Ground Zero, The Daily News reported. Some 1,140 responders and people who worked, lived, or went to school in lower Manhattan have been certified to have been diagnosed with a WTC-related cancer by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Experts believe that this is just a small part of a larger issue. “There are more cases out there, because we just know of the people in our government-funded medical programs, not those who have been treated by their private doctors,” Dr. Jim Melius, chairman of the steering committee for the WTC Responder Medical Program and a 9/11 Health Watch board member, told The Daily News previously. “Because of the carcinogens in the air at Ground Zero, people who were exposed are vulnerable. And with cancer, there is a delay,” he added.
On the eve of the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, federal health officials finally acknowledged a link between toxic Ground Zero dust and cancer. After much debate and at around the same time, the federal government finally agreed, and NIOSH announced, that more than 50 different types of cancers would be covered under the Zadroga Act. The decision was meant to allow financially strapped Ground Zero first responders, who’ve since developed cancer, to access funds to cover their soaring healthcare costs. At that time, prostate cancer was not included under the list of covered cancers.
This May, the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association filed a petition to include prostate cancer. NIOSH published a proposed rule to add the prostate cancer this July. The final rule adding the cancer was posted on the Federal Register, this week, according to Newsday.
The deadline to register for the compensation fund is October 3rd;. As of September 15th, the latest date for which statistics are available, more than 30,000 people had registered, according to Newsday. “This is a huge victory for those with prostate cancer,” said John Feal, founder of the advocacy group FealGood Foundation. Feal said he would also like to see pancreatic cancer and some heart ailments added to the list.
In the rule, Dr. John Howard, director of NIOSH and administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program, said the evidence of a number of new studies contributed to the inclusion of prostate cancer to the list. A study published in May of 25,000 responders revealed a 21 percent higher-than-expected incidence of prostate cancer.
More than 1,000 first responders have been diagnosed with cancer, according to The New York Daily News, and that number is expected to increase.