First responders paid a tremendous price on September 11, 2001. Hundreds of them were among those who died that day.
Today, the loss of life continues. Fire fighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, construction workers, volunteers and World Trade Center-area workers and residents sustained exposure to a toxic stew of chemicals and fumes–including dozens of carcinogens–that continue to cause lingering effects.
Cancers are becoming more common among these men and women. This week, three New York City fire fighters died of cancer on the same day.
The Queens World Trade Center Clinical Center of Excellence, operated by LIJ Medical Center, is one of seven in the New York/New Jersey area. As part of the national WTC Health Program, we monitor the health of the thousands who served at Ground Zero, and provide or facilitate care for WTC-related health conditions and diseases, including lung disease, asthma, gastroesophogeal disease and the cancers that claimed the three fire fighters this week.
The Zadroga Act (formally, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010) established the WTC Health Program, which supports all WTC Clinical Centers of Excellence. Federal funding for the Queens WTC Center guarantees that LIJ and its network of health care professionals will continue to provide medical care to responders as well as treatment for related behavioral health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
But the Zadroga Act is nearing the end of its five-year authorization. It is critical to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act to ensure that all who labored at Ground Zero get the highest quality care if they need it.
As a country, we can and must do this.