NIOSH to Offer Free Monitoring and Treatment for 9/11-Related Cancer
The total number of people who died during the attacks of 9/11/01 is 2,996, which includes not only innocent people in and around the buildings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon plus the airline crew and passengers, but also many first-responders such as police and firefighters. But the effects didn’t end on that day. Since then, illnesses related to the September 11 attacks have caused an estimated 1,000 deaths.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 launched the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program which provides medical evaluation and treatment to eligible 9/11 responders and survivors for respiratory conditions such as asthma and pulmonary fibrosis, mental disorders (depression and PTSD), and musculoskeletal conditions.
The Act is named after a NYC Police Department officer who died of a respiratory disease attributed to his participation in rescue and recovery operations following the WTC attacks. He died in January of 2006.
Today, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health announced that under this law, those eligible will also be entitled to free monitoring and treatment for about 50 forms of cancer believed to be the direct result of exposure to toxic compounds from the wreckage, including jet fuel, heating and diesel oil, and thousands of tons of organic debris.
Fifteen of the chemical agents found in the smoke, dust and gas in the tragic aftermath are known human carcinogens, as classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Another 37 are classified as “reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans” per the US National Toxicology Program.
Cancers to be covered under the new program include those that meet any of three criteria:
• Cancers caused by any 9/11 compound which the IARC classifies as a human carcinogen,
• Cancers where high levels of inflammation have been documented,
• Cancers that epidemiology studies suggest that responders are at higher risk for than the general population.
Specifically, the program will include respiratory system cancers, such as lung cancer, which is linked to arsenic, asbestos, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, nickel and silica dust and digestive system cancers (ie: esophagus, stomach, colorectal, and liver) which have been linked to tetrachloroethylene, asbestos, lead or polychlorinated biphenyls.
Breast, bladder, leukemia, melanoma, and all childhood cancers are also included in the 9/11 program. In addition, it covers monitoring and treatment for multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which have been reported in unusually higher levels for NYC firefighters who worked at the WTC site.
The decision "marks an important step in the effort to provide needed treatment and care to 9/11 responders and survivors," said Dr. John Howard MD, administrator of the WTC Health Program.
"They did a magnificent thing, showing not only scientific acumen but also a generosity of spirit," said Dr. Michael Crane, director of the WTC health program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Dr. Howard recognizes that the effects of 9/11 extend beyond those near New York City and the WTC site. He notes that NIOSH will continue to work to improve the program, establishing eligibility criteria for Pentagon and Shanksville, PA responders plus expand the number of qualified clinics outside the NYC metropolitan area.
Potential patients with questions can email the WTC Health Program at [email protected], visit the website at www.cdc.gov/wtc or contact the call center at 1-888-982-4748.
Department of Health and Human Services: World Trade Center Health Program; Addition of Certain Types of Cancer to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions. Final Rule, Filed 9/10/12 at 415 PM (pre-publication). Document Number: 2012-22304