Updated 02/16/2012 11:16 PM
Panel Supports Adding Cancer Coverage To 9/11 Health Bill
There may be relief on the way for New Yorkers who contracted cancer as a result of inhaling World Trade Center toxins, as a government advisory panel is poised to deliver them a victory. NY1’s Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
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Police Officer Fred Krines spent weeks toiling in the toxic air of the World Trade Center site. Years later, he was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer that turned his life upside down.
“I had a radical dissection where they took half of my neck apart, and from there on, I went to chemotherapy and aggression radiation, and if the doctors wouldn’t have caught that, I would have been probably dead today,” said Krines.
Krines and others have been pushing for cancer to be included under the Zadroga Act, federal legislation that provides health care and compensation to sick 9/11 workers.
On Thursday, an advisory panel tasked with looking at the issue agreed, reaching a consensus that cancer should be added. Now it must decide exactly which cancers.
“I think in general, people believe that at least some forms of cancer may be related to the exposures,” said Elizabeth Ward, chair of the World Trade Center Health Advisory Committee.
The decision came after two days of sometimes impassioned testimony from recovery workers, experts and elected officials.
“This commission has to once and for all say what all the rest of us already know: that it’s obvious that’s where these men and women contracted their cancer, and now they need our help,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
“While all of these illnesses from 9/11 are debilitating—asthma and girt and acid reflux and the post-traumatic—it’s the cancers that are killing these people rapidly,” said John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation.
Cancer wasn’t originally included as a 9/11-related condition because there wasn’t enough research to establish a conclusive link, but that now appears to be changing.
A study last fall found a 19 percent increased cancer rate among firefighters who worked at the World Trade Center site, and a new, yet-to-be-released study from Mt. Sinai found a 14 percent increased rate among all recovery workers.
The panel will issue its final recommendations by April 2. If those recommendations are adopted by the federal government, cancer victims would then be eligible to apply for a share of the $2.8 billion compensation fund.