Special Master to Distribute Funds to Rescue Workers and Residents with Mesothelioma, Respiratory Diseases and Other Illnesses from Toxic 9/11 Dust
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to provide compensation and health monitoring to rescue workers and NY residents harmed by toxic dust and smoke from the 9/11 attacks passed Congress in December, and now it is time to begin distributing the funds. In the coming weeks, a special master is expected to be named by the Justice Department who will begin allocating money to those who are facing environmental diseases, including mesothelioma and lung cancer, from inhaling the noxious cloud of dust at Ground Zero.
The special master’s appointment is a key step to implementing the new law. The appointee will develop program rules and procedures within the guidelines outlined in the legislation and will decide how to distribute the $2.8 billion to people who say that they have developed illnesses from exposure to asbestos, mercury, lead and other toxins found in the dust at Ground Zero. Asbestos is a carcinogen and is known to cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
The law also provides ongoing monitoring and treatment of the rescue workers illnesses with hopes that the monitoring program may help define what exactly qualifies as a 9/11-related illness. Several groups are currently conducting studies of cancer deaths among 9/11 workers. If research shows a 9/11 connection, then workers with those cancers would be eligible for compensation.
Researchers at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center recently reported in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine that NY emergency personnel who responded after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks have shown an increased incidence of pulmonary inflammation. More than 50,000 men and women were exposed to products of combustion, asbestos and particulate matter after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Concern for the 9/11 workers health arose almost immediately after the attack when the air quality in the Manhattan area was measurably harmful. Medical researchers are now seeing unusually high incidences of respiratory issues and lung scarring in the Ground Zero rescue workers.