By: Adan Salazar
Although many died due to illness directly related to inhalation of dust and debris in the weeks following 9/11, government health care up til now had refused to recognize several cancers as valid diseases caused by the toxic dust distributed via the demolitions of World Trade Centers 1 and 2.
Yesterday, however, the World Trade Center Health Programadded 58 types of cancers to the list of cost-approved diseases.
Whereas before the program only covered less serious diseases like asthma, acid reflux disease, chronic cough lung, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, cancer was not included because there was supposedly little scientific evidence suggesting the epidemic surge in cancer rates were attributed to WTC dust.
Today, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced the WTC Health Program would begin covering the cost of treatment for victims that incurred malignant neoplasms (tumors) of the stomach, larynx, esophagus, colon, breast, nose, ovary, kidney, urinary bladder, thyroid, skin (including scrotal cancer) blood and childhood cancers to name a few.
“The publication of this final rule marks an important step in the effort to provide needed treatment and care to 9/11 responders and survivors through the WTC Health Program,” NIOSH director John Howard told the Associated Press.
In December 2010, Congress tried to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to compensate survivors but was unable to get the votes needed to pass the measure. The legislation was named in remembrance of James Zadroga, an NYPD officer that died due to cancer from exposure to WTC dust. After a hard fought battle, the World Trade Center Health Program was finally enacted on January 2, 2011, but covered only a smidgen of respiratory and digestive disorders and mental health conditions.
When the Zadroga act passed, other 9/11 health and compensation funds, including the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program (MMTP) and the World Trade Center Environmental Health Center (EHC), came under the WTC Health Program umbrella.
In 2007, the 9/11 death toll increased after the New York medical examiner began adding those who died due to dust exposure; the first person added was Felicia Dunn-Jones, 42, who died in February 2002 from a lung problem.
Donna Summer, the 1970′s pop diva known as the Queen of Disco, also believed she had grown ill and depressed due to World Trade Center dust inhalation.
Reuters reports that some 70,000 surviving firefighters, police officers and other first responders will be entitled to free monitoring and treatment under the newly extended WTC Health Program.
Those who need treatment will have to split the $2.775 billion set aside for the fund. One attorney, Michael Barasch, who is handling thousands of first responders and residents’ cases, told CBS it won’t be enough: “”There simple isn’t enough money…There are so many rescue workers with debilitating diseases and they’re simply not going to get a fair amount.”