Occupational Health & Safety

World Trade Center Health Program Adds Cancer Coverage for 9/11 Victims

NIOSH adds cancers to the list of illnesses resulting from the 2001 terrorist attacks covered by the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Several types of cancer have been added to a list of ailments covered by a government program benefitting first-responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The final rule, issued on the eve of the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, now incorporates around 50 types of cancer.

Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, first proposed the addition of cancer to illnesses covered by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in June, making the ruling official on Monday.

Initially, cancer was excluded from the list of illnesses covered by the $4.3 billion fund because there was not enough scientific evidence to prove that cancer was a medical condition resulting from exposure to dust, debris, and toxins at Ground Zero in the days after the attack. Now, however, after further review and input from various scientific organizations and trade unions, Howard's proposition has been approved.

According to the rule, of those enrolled to receive funds under this act, the cancer rate is 21 percent higher than the national average. About 60,000 people are covered by the act, including police offices, firefighters, cleanup crews, and eligible survivors of the attack. The rule will be effective 30 days after its Sept. 12 publication in the Federal Register.

There has been discussion among lawmakers to increase funding for those qualified for the act, now that cancer has been added. Funds not only cover medical bills, but low wage compensation, as well. A full list of cancers covered and the text of the rule can be found here.

Sheila Birnbaum, special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, released this statement on the NIOSH final rule Sept. 10: "As previously stated, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) will follow the medical analyses conducted by the doctors and scientists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) who operate the World Trade Center Health Program (Health Program). Individuals who have been diagnosed with one of the cancers added by the Health Program today will be eligible for compensation from the VCF provided the cancer is determined to be a result of the September 11th attacks under the standards to be developed by the Health Program and provided they meet the VCF's other eligibility criteria. These criteria include proving physical presence at one of the crash sites between September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, a specific medical condition that is a direct result of the terrorist-related crashes or the debris removal at the crash sites, and a physical injury treated by a medical professional within a reasonable time from the date the injury was discovered."

For information about VCF, visit this website.

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