(NaturalNews) Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, tens of thousands of emergency first responders and ordinary New Yorkers living near Ground Zero were exposed to high levels of toxic dust particles released from the crumpled towers that, to this day, are still inflicting harm in the form of chronic illness. But for the first time, more than a decade after the attacks, the federal government is finally fessing up to the fact that this poisonous dust can cause cancer, which means cancer victims who were exposed to the dust can now receive financial compensation and assistance for the harm they endured.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced recently that 50 types of cancer will be added to the list of health conditions covered by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2009, a bill passed in 2010 to provide financial compensation specifically for injured first responders. Since many of those who risked their lives to provide emergency relief on that fateful day back in 2001 are now gravely ill, the inclusion of cancer into the list of covered conditions is timely.
The provision specifically modifies the Zadroga to now cover the costs associated with the monitoring and treatment of these 50 types of cancer among the 70,000 surviving firefighters, police officers, and other emergency workers involved in rescue and cleanup efforts. The types of cancer covered include lung, colorectal, breast, and bladder cancers, as well as leukemia, melanoma, and all childhood cancers.
"[This decision] marks an important step in the effort to provide needed treatment and care to 9/11 responders and survivors," said Dr. John Howard, Administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), which was established as part of the Zadroga law.
A 2011 WTCHP report explains that the dust mixture to which first responders were exposed contained 287 different chemicals and chemical groups, including toxic asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and pesticides. Also included in the mix were combustion products from jet fuel, heating and diesel oil, and various organic debris as well.
According to NBC News, there have already been roughly 1,000 exposure-related deaths among first responders in the years following the attacks. A memorial wall in New York City that honors deceased local firefighters who helped with rescue efforts on 9/11 recently had nine more names etched it, bringing the total number of local firefighters who became ill and died following their participation in 9/11 emergency relief efforts to 64.