9/11 Responders Denied Coverage for Cancer Treatment


A federal review of scientific evidence has concluded that 9/11 first responders and residents of ground zero who have developed cancer after the 2001 attacks do not qualify for aid from the federal government program at least until 2012. A review published on Tuesday by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says that there is ”very little” evidence for a link between cancer and the cloud of toxins released when the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were destroyed.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is named for a police officer who died at the age of 34 after working at Ground Zero; the act guarantees that those who suffered health problems related to the 9/11 attacks be “monitored by doctors and receive treatment at least until 2015,” says the Star-Ledger. The $4.2 billion legislation was signed by President Obama in January after what CNN refers to as a “lengthy battle” and so far providers coverage for asthma, interstitial lung disease and mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, who had initially praised the legislation, says in CNN:

“So many people have gotten such rare cancers — and at such young ages — that it seems obvious there must be a link.”

He labeled the report “premature” and said revision will “demonstrate that those who were exposed to the witches’ brew of toxins at ground zero have developed serious illnesses, including cancer, and deserve justice.”

Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler and Republican Rep. Peter King, who authored the legislation, all expressed disappointment at the finding, as did those who worked at the WTC site and have developed diseases including blood cancer and thyroid cancer.  In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, telecommunications worker Richard Dambakly, who worked for four months at ground zero and has developed blood cancer, called the review “nonsense.” Two police officers interviewed by CNN have both developed cancer: New York police officer Reggie Hillaire is 34 years old; he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer in 2005 and told by doctors that such is “really, really rare” in someone “so young.” He worked for 11 days at the WTC site and then 63 days at a Staten Island landfill and says:

“I’ve met so many people who were police officers at the same time who have these cancers, and we’re all about the same age.”

…Cancer treatment being covered by the program “would have brought some closure. … It feels like it’s never going to end,” he said.

“It’s very unfortunate. My doctors think (the cancer’s) directly linked” to the September 11 exposure, said Al Schille, a New York Police Department detective who also suffers from multiple myeloma cancer.

The report does not completely outrule a link between cancer and exposure to the toxins released in the 9/11 attacks but says that evidence for such is currently “insufficient.” As the Star-Ledger says, the cause of Zadroga’s 2005 death is still being debated:

His supporters say he died from respiratory disease contracted at ground zero. But the city’s medical examiner said his lung condition was caused by prescription drug abuse, not by World Trade Center particles.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has called the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to “accelerate research and data collection to examine the links between cancer and exposure to contaminants at ground zero.” But will new findings emerge in time to help individuals like Dambakly, Hillaire and Schille?

Related Care2 Coverage

Obama Visits Ground Zero Where the WTC Once Stood (VIDEO)

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Photo taken September 19, 2001, by mashleymorgan

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Charlie Parkinson

*sigh* why am not surprised? If I were a friend or relative of one of those brave men and women who are now suffering for risking their lives to help other people they probably didn't even know in a country where the government is slower than an old snail to pay back its debts......I'd take them down to Cuba, screw the politics of it all.......selfless people like that deserve the care and support more than those idiot politicians deserve any of their fat pay-checks and, I'm sure, fully covered private health insurance plans.

Nessie B.
Nessie B.4 years ago

Petition signed!

But disgraceful that the very people who serve to protect and keep us safe are denied the medical help they need. It is unbelievable that these first responders are being denied essential care because some medical 'report' finds insufficient evidence of a link between the cancers and the toxic soup of 9/11 ash.

When not sure - err on the side of care! Please!!!

Camila K.
Kamila A.4 years ago

Murdoch should pay for each and every victim's healthcare costs whose lives have been destroyed, as a small gesture toward repaying his horrible karmic debt to humanity. If I were him, I couldn't do it fast enough. He might die of old age before signing all the checks, but its worth the effort.

Leah Cluverius

This country and its government should learn to take care of their bravest. I guess their main preoccupation is to keep their seat in congress and senate and who cares about others who gave their lives so that they could be safe.

Unbelievably shameful!

Eric B.
eric b.4 years ago

Ok Roxane let me try to explain this 1 more time I've been a firefighter for 11 years. went to Afghanistan with my unit and had police ofc's as buddies. and now work for the new york state public safety dept. EVERY JOB HAS POLICY's, IF YOU REFUSE TO FOLLOW THEM YOU STAND A GRATER OF A CHANCE TO BE HURT. ITS LIKE A POLICE OFC. THAT REFUSES TO Wear HIS BULLET PROOF VEST GETTING SHOT AND KILLED (ITS NOT THE COUNTY'S OR JOB'S FAULT........IT'S The officers ("If you don't want RISK AND POLICY's stay out of the kitchen").
OK now The multiple myeloma cancer.is caused BY get this............exposure of the skin, THAT'S WHY BOTH FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS HAVE WHAT'S CALLED............PROTECTIVE CLOTHING, SORT OF LIKE A RUNNING COAT OR A FIREFIGHTERS TURNOUT COAT BASICALLY A PROTECTIVE NIMEX COAT FOR POLICE. If a police officer or a fire fighter on a emergency call REFUSES to wear any protective gear, than the outcome is NOT THE COUNTY, STATE's OR CITY's AND NOT EVER THE FEDERAL GOVT's FAULT. Its a S.O.P (STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE) policy that's been around hundreds of years. If you change it for one person you have to do it for all and that's not possible. The officer can still get the medical attention needed for his cancer it just cant be p[paid for by the state.

Roxane Connor
Roxane Connor4 years ago

S.O.S.D.D. The gov. did the same to soldiers affected by agent orange.

Matteo Cossi
Matteo C.4 years ago

It is shameful.

Anja N.
Justin R.4 years ago

This is wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Will sign petition!

Leah Cluverius

It is shameful and the US wants to teach the world according to the American model! The first moral and democratic thing to do is to take care of the ones who sacrifice their lives to save innocent victims of terrorism.

Edward Crown
Edward Crown4 years ago

Site cancer as the main disease under Zadroga Bill.

Dr. John Howard, medical examiner ruled out the 9/11 responders who are now cancer victims acquiring their illness from the tragedy of 9/11. They are being denied under the Zadroga Compensation Bill.

The importance cannot be overstated. The sick need our help with their illness and medical expenses. When and if they die—they will leave their spouses and families mired in medical debt besides the loss of their loved one. The sick and perhaps dying can no longer monetarily support their families—due to mostly cancer and are prisoners of their own homes. They need to be fairly compensated and treated with the dignity and respect of a United States hero. But now, the nation seemingly has forgotten these people by turning backs on them in their greatest hour of need. There will be future cancer illnesses attributed by the glass particle asbestos dust mixed with other toxicant particles of that day. After ten years we have not properly looked into the cause of why so many responders are now sick and dying of cancer.

I created a petition entitled cancer-stricken “WTC heroes are being denied”.

I'm trying to collect 100,000 signatures, and could really use your help.

To read more about what I'm trying to do and to sign my petition, click here:

It'll just take a minute!

Please ask your friends to sign the petition as we