As firefighters, policeman, and ordinary citizens first walked through the rubble of the World Trade Center after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack
, probably the last thing on their mind was the possible cancer risk. However, some First Responders and residents who lived close by, and then developed cancer after 9/11, believe there is a link between their disease and the cloud of toxins that arose from the destruction of the twin towers. To their chagrin, a U.S. government review has determined there is no proof that exposure to the dust and debris resulting from the fall of the World Trade Center caused cancer.Insufficient evidence.
Understandably, this announcement has ignited outrage among those who are convinced there is a connection and that there are simply too many First Responders suffering from cancer since 9/11. Yet, Dr. John Howard from the World Trade Center Health Program says, “Insufficient evidence exists at this time to propose a rule to add cancer, or a certain type of cancer, to the list of WTC-related health conditions
Ultimately this means that cancer treatment is not eligible for coverage by health care legislation recently signed to assist thousands trying to afford the necessary medical care for illnesses that stem from the WTC cleanup.
Authors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (named after a New York City police officer who died of respiratory disease after working at Ground Zero), Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Peter King, issued in a statement, “The collapse of the Trade Center towers released a cloud of poisons, including carcinogens, throughout lower Manhattan and we fully expect that cancers will be covered under our legislation. This is disappointing news for 9/11 responders and survivors who tragically have been diagnosed with cancer since the attacks and are suffering day to day and awaiting help.”Exposure to 287 carcinogenic chemicals.
When the terrorist aircraft crashed into the Twin Towers, they ignited an inferno that pumped billowing smoke containing jet fuel, metals, hydrochloric acid, soot, organic compounds, glass fibers, pesticides, cement dust, asbestos, and dioxins into the air. In the weeks and months that followed, government agencies collected samples around Ground Zero and eventually identified 287 chemicals that people may have been exposed to. Some of these are either known human carcinogens, or they are expected to carcinogenic.
The committee involved reviewed about 300 published studies on the World Trade Center and environmental exposure to determine there isn’t enough evidence to say these cancer cases could be caused by inhaling the toxic mixture on September 11. However, they did add that as more studies are published on cancer and exposure in the years to come, there will be other reviews.
For Ground Zero vicinity residents and first responders stricken with cancer following 9/11, perhaps they can find some measure of peace knowing this isn’t the final word on the inclusion of cancers in the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.