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Mixed feelings about 9/11 cancer decision

According to a report on ABC News, many first responders have mixed feelings about a decision to make cancer victims eligible for treatment and compensation under the World Trade Center Health Program.

The program set aside $4.3 billion to treat and otherwise compensate victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, including first responders who suffered health problems after inhaling toxic dust at the site of Ground Zero.

The fund previously included health problems including asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain. But cancer wasn’t previously included because no clear link had been established between the disease and the dust cloud that settled over downtown Manhattan in the wake of the attacks.

In a decision issued this week, the program will now cover 50 types of cancer including mesothelioma, which affects the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body called the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is caused primarily by exposure to asbestos.

According to the report, some first responders are pleased that the compensation has finally come through, but angry over the delay caused by government officials arguing about whether cancer should be included in the coverage.

It quotes New York City firefighter Jeffrey Stroehlein, who was diagnosed with cancer, as saying: “They’re only about ten years too late. I’m watching people die of these diseases, these ailments, as they go on and play ping pong.”

The report quotes Oladele Ogunseitan — who chairs the Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention at the University of California, Irvine — as saying the first acknowledgement linking the toxic dust to cancer wouldn’t surprise his colleagues because asbestos was in the World Trade Center and is a known carcinogen.

Ogunseitan says: “The World Trade Center building was constructed at a time that asbestos was used in building materials. By some estimates, 400 tons of asbestos was used in the building, and asbestos-containing fire retardant was used up to the 64th floor of the building.”

If you or a loved one have contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation.

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