NEW YORK (PIX11)—New York lawmakers announced Wednesday plans to file a petition requiring 9/11 Health Program Administrator Dr. John Howard to add cancers to the benefits coverage under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
The filing comes less than a week from the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.
Among those in attendance at a press conference at Ground Zero Wednesday afternoon were U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Peter King, Charles Rangel, and Steve Israel, sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, fellow New York lawmakers, union leaders, and 9/11 first responders and survivors.
The petition requires Dr. Howard to consider adding coverage for cancers under the Zadroga Act within 60 days. According to Rep. Maloney, a provision of the law allows for periodic reviews for evidence of cancer and other illnesses by lawmakers and institutions.
It also includes an annual report to be given to Dr. Howard in case new ailments need to be added based on studies showing those illnesses were caused by working at the World Trade Center site.
A study by the New York City Fire Department released last week in the medical journal, the Lancet shows a 32% greater incidence of cancer among firefighters who work at the ground zero site than those who did not according to the FDNY.
The leaders of the Uniformed Firefighters Association and Uniformed Fire Officers Association are also calling upon the Federal Government, the Zadroga Fund Special Master and the Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to make immediate changes to cover firefighters who are sick and dying of cancer. 9,853 New York City Firefighters and Fire Officers were part of the seven year medical study, from 2001 2008.
"The cancer study led by Dr. David Prezant conclusively proves that New York City Firefighters who worked at Ground Zero have 32 percent higher cancer rate than firefighters who did not participate in the response and clean up at the 22 acre attack site," said Steve Cassidy, president of the UFA. "The FDNY has also seen a significant uptick in recent years of firefighters with cancer who were not included in the study."
According to the FDNY press release, "Medical doctors leading the study concluded in their report that, 'firefighters experienced uniquely intense WTC exposures.' ("Early assessment of cancer outcomes in New York City Firefighters after the 9/11 attacks: an observational cohort study" The Lancet, Volume 378, September 3, 2011, Page 904)"
Lawmakers added that the study indicated an elevated risk of melanoma, thyroid and prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among firefighters who served at ground zero compared to the general population, and an overall increase in cancer among firefighters exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center site compared to firefighters who weren't exposed to those toxins.
In July, Dr. Howard announced that current medical evidence could not prove a higher occurance of cancer among those who worked at ground zero and that cancers would not be considered covered conditions under the Zadroga Act. Those who have cancer will not receive benefits from the law unless Dr. Howard changes his decision.