Responders to the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks who are diagnosed with breast, liver and other types of
cancer will receive money from a $1.5 billion federal fund to
pay for their treatments, the U.S. government said.
About 50 cancers, also including colon, stomach and lung,
will be covered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
said today in a proposed rule. The decision ends a fight over
expanding health coverage for rescuers, cleanup crews and others
exposed to carcinogens at or near New York’s World Trade Center,
which was leveled by two hijacked airplanes. Responders to
attack and crash sites at the Pentagon in suburban Washington
and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, also are eligible.
The proposed decision by John Howard, director of the
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, reverses
the government’s position that there was insufficient evidence
directly linking toxic debris and smoke at the sites to cancers
later developed by some responders. A study by the New York Fire
Department found that firefighters who worked in the rubble of
the trade center were 19 percent more likely to develop cancer
than their peers.
“We recognize how personal the issue of cancer and all of
the health conditions related to the World Trade Center tragedy
are to 9/11 responders, survivors and their loved ones,”
Howard, who oversees the program, said in a statement posted on
Almost 3,000 people were killed when terrorists hijacked
and crashed four commercial airliners in 2001. The $1.5 billion
medical fund was created on Jan. 2, 2011, when President Barack
Obama signed legislation reactivating a program that operated
from 2001 to 2003 to help those suffering from the attack and
its aftermath. Cancer wasn’t included as an ailment that
qualified a person for compensation from the new funds.
A scientific advisory committee recommended March 31 that
the fund cover many cancers, including those of the lungs,
breast and digestive system. The committee noted the New York
firefighters study, and said it based the recommendation
primarily on the existence of about 70 known and potential
carcinogens detected in smoke and debris from the attack.
The special master of a related non-medical victims’
compensation fund, Sheila Birnbaum, has said that covering
cancer may cause the health fund to run out of money faster than
Among the cancers that are excluded from coverage are
pancreas, prostate and brain, according to the filing.
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Alex Wayne in Washington at
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Reg Gale at