On Tuesday I was in Lower Manhattan for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation viewing Better Angels: The Firefighters of 9/11 (see the video above). As part of Dawn Howkinson’s art work honoring the 343 FDNY firefighters who were killed in the September 11th attacks, the display had names of public safety workers who worked the pile and have since died because of diseases believed related to their efforts. FDNY Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, upon seeing that list Tuesday, lamented that it was continuing to grow. Today’s ruling, allowing for 50 types of cancers to be added to the list of illnesses covered by more than $4 billion dollar 9-11 health fund, is a major development in efforts to compensate and care for those who were exposed to the toxic smoke and dust.
Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times:
The decision, released on Friday afternoon, came as a vindication for hundreds and perhaps thousands of people who have claimed — often in the face of resistance from public health officials — that their cancers were caused by their exposure to the dust cloud and debris thrown up in the aftermath of the attack.
It will allow not only rescue workers but also volunteers, residents, schoolchildren and passers-by to apply for money to pay for compensation and treatment for cancers developed in the aftermath of the attack. The cancers will not officially be added to the list until after a period of public comment lasting several months.
People who were stricken with cancer after being exposed to the toxic ash that exploded over Manhattan when the World Trade Center collapsed would qualify for free treatment of the disease and potentially hefty compensation payments under a rule proposed Friday by federal health officials.
After months of study, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said in an administrative filing that it favored a major expansion of an existing $4.3 billion 9/11 health program to include people with 50 types of cancer, covering 14 broad categories of the disease.
People with any of the cancers on the list could qualify for treatments and payments as long as they and their doctors make a plausible case that the disease was connected to the caustic dust.
The decision followed years of emotional lobbying by construction workers, firefighters, police officers, office cleaners, and many other people who fell ill in the decade after the terror attack, and were sure it had something to do with the many days they spent toiling in the gray soot.
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