Firemen work around the World Trade Center after both towers collapsed in New York on September 11, 2001. (Photo : Reuters)
The National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) announced on Monday that the U.S. government has expanded its list of illnesses that were a result of the falling of the World Trade Center (WTC) to include 50 additional types of cancer.
This move, which has been in the making since mid-2011, comes as a result of almost a decade of lobbying by first responders, including firefighters and police officers, who have become ill after inhaling toxins floating through the air as a result of the falling of the twin towers. This would allow these individuals to receive health care for covered illnesses at no charge, with the care being paid for out of a $4.3 billion WTC Health Care Program.
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"The publication of this final rule makes an important step in the effort to provide needed treatment and care to 9/11 responders and survivors through the WTC Health Program," Dr. John Howard, NIOSH director said in a statement.
Although there is not much evidential support showing a link between increased rates of cancer and the toxic dust present around Ground Zero, NIOSH proceeded to make its decision to add the 50 additional cancers to the list of covered illnesses at the suggestion of a multi-faceted advisory board.
The board, made up of doctors, union officials and community advocates, recommended that the far more serious cancer cases be included among other illnesses receiving federally funded care, including asthma, acid reflux disease and psychological illnesses like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Additionally, a number of occupational health experts came forward to discuss the possible danger of having breathed in the air at Ground Zero and the advisory panel deemed it very possible that heavy exposure to this carcinogen-laced air could lead to numerous different types of cancer.
"We have urged from the very beginning that the decision whether or not to include cancer be based on science; Dr. Howard's decision, made after thorough consideration of the latest available research and data, will continue to ensure that those who have become ill due to the heinous attacks on 9/11 get the medical care they need and deserve," NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.