Aid Denied for 9/11 Ground Zero Cancer Victims

A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has been released detailing that there is no causal link between the toxicity of the 9/11 Ground Zero rescue and clean up, and the cancers that many first responders have developed.

The study ruled that cancer ailed first responders will not be eligible for aid under the James A. Zadroga Act; established in 2010 and put into effect in January 2011, to provide monetary assistance to those who have developed illnesses due to being exposed to fumes, dust and toxins at Ground Zero.

According to the report, published by Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, proving that involvement in the 9/11 response caused cancer is difficult because cancer is prevalent in the United States.

“The probability that a person will develop cancer over a lifetime is one in two for men and one in three for women,” the report details.

Cancer stricken first responders, their families and 9/11 advocates are upset and disappointed that cancer was not included as part of the Zadroga Act initially, and say there is plenty of evidence of a connection.

“They couldn’t find the evidence, but we have the evidence and we have the statistics,” John Feal, a 9/11 worker and founder of the FealGood Foundation said, according to the Huffington Post. “We have the funerals. I’ve been to 53 funerals, and 51 of them were for cancer.”

The FealGood Foundation provides advocacy and support for all involved and affected by 9/11.

As well as those who have already died of cancer, there are countless responders living with cancer that will not receive aid the Zadroga Act could provide to ease the burdens of their bills.

Jeff Stroehlein, a first responder fire fighter who was diagnosed with brain cancer in March has accumulated enumerable bills for his treatments. His medications, costing up to $700 are not covered by his insurance.

“It just comes to us blow by blow. The first was the cancer, now it’s the bills,” Stroehlein told Metro New York.

The Zadroga Act allocates $4.3 billion over the next five years to assist responders with ailments that research has proven has a connection to 9/11. Most common are asthma and other respiratory diseases, post-traumatic stress, broken bones and other physical injuries.

While the act at present excludes cancers, the report also states that current lack of correlated research “does not indicate the evidence of the absence of a causal association.” Another review will be conducted in mid 2012.

Many are asking for a more speedy continuation of the review. Research at the Mount Sinai WTC Monitoring and Treatment Program shows correlation and hopes to soon show causation that could hurry the next review.

Sixty different types of cancers are being tracked through the program, including esophageal cancer. Dr. Mark Kaufman of Long Island has seen the scarred lungs of many responders and says it’s not a coincidence.

Mount Sinai researchers also say they have found an unusually high number of people with multiple myeloma, a bone cancer that is more commonly found in the elderly; eight cases of responders younger than 45 have been diagnosed.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and several other New York representatives are speaking out in order to see a quicker response to the review. She told the New York Times that it’s a matter of life and death that the process is sped up.

“Responders and their family have to suffer physically and financially from these deadly cancers, and the longer they have to wait on a cancer determination, the longer our 9/11 heroes will continue to suffer without proper treatment or compensation,” she said.

Attorney Victor Fusco who spoke Metro New York agrees.

“Someday they’re going to recognize [the connection between Ground Zero and cancer], but everybody will be dead.”