Updated 09/01/2011 11:23 PM
New Studies Show Significant Link Between WTC Dust And Cancer Development
Though the Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act does not cover cancer, new FDNY findings published in a British medical journal show that firefighters who worked at the World Trade Center site following September 11th are 19 percent more likely to develop such illness than those who did not. NY1’s Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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A fresh set of studies published in a special edition of the British medical journal The Lancet may once again remove any doubt that 9/11 has had a serious impact on the health of those exposed to World Trade Center dust.
In the largest study ever done on firefighters, examining the health records of nearly 10,000 of them, New York City Fire Department researchers found those who responded to the site are 19 percent more likely to get cancer compared to those who did not.
“What we can say is exposure to 9/11 increased the likelihood for their developing cancer. It was one of many factors, but it was a significant factor,” said FDNY Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Prezant.
With cancer currently not covered under the Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act, the FDNY findings could provide the extra muscle needed to turn that decision around.
Another study from the World Trade Screen Monitoring and Treatment Program at Mount Sinai is also a largest-to-date. Between 10 to 30 percent of the more than 27,000 rescue and recovery workers they have seen still have serious medical challenges ranging from respiratory and gastrointestinal disease to mental health issues.
“The World Trade Center dust was a complex mix of chemicals. It was a real witch's cauldron, a soup of toxic material,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “The cement dust had a pH of between 10 and 11, which means that it would be like inhaling powdered Drano.”
Despite the higher rates of physical and mental illness, there is another new study out in The Lancet that shows that so far, rescue workers and civilians exposed to World Trade Center toxins still have lower death rates than most average New Yorkers.
As far as the responders are concerned, some researchers say there could be an obvious reason for that: responders were a more typically fit population to begin with.
However, doctors caution that while illnesses diagnosed now may not all be killers today, it does not mean there will not be problems in the years ahead. That is a major reason why they continue to track and treat diseases and make sure the funding is there to do it.