NY Lawmakers File Petition Asking Czar To Reconsider Cancers
The following is a press release from Rep. Jerrold Nadler:
NY Lawmakers File Petition Requiring 9/11 Health Czar
to Consider Covering Cancers
New York, NY – U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Peter King, Charles Rangel, Nydia Velázquez, and Michael Grimm; Denis Hughes, President of the New York State AFL-CIO; Pat Lynch, President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association; Al Hagan, President of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association; John Feal, President of the FealGood Foundation; and 9/11 first responders and survivors gathered at ground zero today to announce that the lawmakers have filed a petition with 9/11 Health Program Administrator Dr. John Howard that will require Dr. Howard to consider within 60 days whether or not to add coverage for cancers under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. A copy of the petition, which was also signed by New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, follows.
The lawmakers filed their petition following the release last week in The Lancet of a peer-reviewed study by the New York City Fire Department that indicated an elevated risk of melanoma, thyroid and prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among firefighters who served at ground zero compared to the general population, and an overall increase in cancer among firefighters exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center site compared to firefighters who weren’t exposed to those toxins.
In July, Dr. Howard announced that, following a review of the available medical evidence, cancers would not yet be considered covered conditions under the Zadroga Act. However, the only peer-reviewed study of possible 9/11-related cancers available at that time was a small study showing a possible rise in multiple myeloma among 9/11 responders.
“Doctors at the 9/11 health clinics have been telling us for years that cancers would likely result from the toxic dust that lingered near ground zero following the attacks. Last week’s study showing elevated cancer rates among firefighters who served at ground zero provided alarming evidence that calls for action, so we are filing a petition that requires Dr. Howard to consider covering cancers under the Zadroga Act,” Maloney said. “I believe that we should provide proper care for cancer-stricken 9/11 heroes and heroines, even if that means treating a few cancers that may not have been caused by the attacks. The benefits far outweigh the costs. It took decades for scientists to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that smoking causes cancer. 9/11 responders and others exposed to the deadly toxins can’t wait that long.”
“Many of us have known for years that exposure to Ground Zero contaminants has led – and will continue to lead – to increases in cancer among 9/11 responders and survivors,” said Nadler. “With last week’s publication of the FDNY study in The Lancet, we believe we have sufficient scientific evidence to make the case to the medical establishment and put this question to rest. As the study shows, toxins are strongly linked to the development of melanoma, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among responders at Ground Zero.”
“It is imperative that Dr. Howard add cancer to the list of covered conditions so that these responders can get the care they so obviously need and deserve from their time at Ground Zero,” said King.
Senator Gillibrand said, “Our first responders and their families continue to suffer physically and financially from deadly cancers, and the longer they have to wait on a cancer determination, the longer our 9/11 heroes will continue to suffer without proper treatment or compensation. For many responders, this is a matter of life and death and we will do everything possible to speed up this process.”
“In the last ten years, so many of our first responders developed rare cancers that it is very plausible there is a link between their illnesses and the toxins they were exposed to at Ground Zero. With the release of last week’s study, we finally have new evidence,” said Senator Schumer. “I urge Dr. Howard to promptly review the study because its data argues that we should add certain cancers to the list of illnesses covered under the Zadroga Act.”
“The freedom we enjoy today is not free. We have an obligation to care for those who rise to the defense of our nation. We don’t leave our injured soldiers on the battlefield, and we certainly shouldn’t leave the 9/11 first responders who are at increased risk for cancer and other ailments with no funding,” said Rangel. “While we can never fully express our gratitude for their sacrifices and patriotism, we can provide them the care they need and deserve. I am proud to stand alongside my dear friends and colleagues to stand up for the heroes who now most need our help.”
Velázquez said, “The evidence is clear– toxins released at Ground Zero cause cancer. It would be unconscionable to deny assistance to New York residents and first responders who contract these diseases as a result of 9/11.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that the high cancer rates among 9/11 firefighters are due to their exposure to toxins from the WTC site. On 9/11, our first responders selflessly rushed into the toxic dust cloud to save the lives of others, and now we have a responsibility to save theirs. We cannot turn our backs on these brave heroes, which is why I proudly stand with my colleagues in urging that cancer be added to the list of ailments covered by the Zadroga Act,” said Grimm.
“I applaud U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter King for taking the lead in filing a petition requiring federal health officials to consider adding cancer coverage under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. As a co-sponsor of this legislation, I join the voices of my colleagues and other New Yorkers to ensure that 9/11 first responders are adequately covered for the illnesses and ailments they have suffered because of their selfless acts immediately following the attacks. We owe it to these brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for the sake of so many ten years ago,” stated Clarke.
“We as a nation have a moral obligation to the brave first responders who put their lives at risk to toil day and night at the World Trade Center site. This latest study suggesting an elevated risk of cancer among firefighters who served at ground zero provides a compelling case that we should expand the Zadroga Act to cover cancers. We cannot wait for endless studies to tell us what we all know: Those who were exposed to the toxic dust at the World Trade Center deserve the fullest possible healthcare coverage. They made incredible sacrifices for our community and our nation and it is past time to give them the benefits they are due,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
“Recent studies have shown evidence of a rise in cancer related illnesses for 9/11 first responders. As a result, it is important that cancers be added to the list of covered conditions under the Zadroga Act. We have a responsibility to protect the long term health of our heroes. Including coverage of cancers is an important step in that direction,” said Denis Hughes, President, New York State AFL-CIO.
Sec. 3312(a)(6) of the Zadroga Act states that an interested party, defined as “a representative of any organization representing WTC responders, a nationally recognized medical association, a Clinical or Data Center, a State or political subdivision, or any other interested person,” may petition the Program Administrator to add a condition to the list of WTC-related health conditions. Once the WTC Program Administrator receives a written petition, the law states that “not later than 60 days after the date of receipt of such petition the Administrator shall—(i) request a recommendation of the Advisory Committee; (ii) publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register to add such health condition…; (iii) publish in the Federal Register the Administrator’s determination not to publish such a proposed rule and the basis for such determination; or (iv) publish in the Federal Register a determination that insufficient evidence exists to take action under clauses (i) through (iii).”
September 7, 2011
John Howard, MD
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
395 E Street SW, Suite 9200
Patriots Plaza Building
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Dr. Howard:
As the sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, we write to file a petition pursuant to Sec. 3312(a)(6) of the Zadroga Act requesting that you conduct an immediate review of new medical evidence showing increased cancer rates among firefighters who served at ground zero and that you consider adding coverage for cancer under the Zadroga Act.
We read with great concern -as we are sure you must have done- the study conducted by the New York City Fire Department and published last week in The Lancet that indicated an elevated risk of melanoma, thyroid and prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among firefighters who served at ground zero, compared to the general population, and an overall increase in cancers among firefighters exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center site, compared to firefighters who were not exposed to those toxins. As you know, the only peer-reviewed study of possible 9/11-related cancers prior to this one was a small study showing a possible rise in multiple myeloma among 9/11 responders.
On August 8, 2011, we wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting that she act quickly to form the Science/Technical Advisory Committee, as required by the Zadroga Act. A copy of that letter is enclosed. Since the Zadroga Act requires you to take action on our petition within sixty days, and since this committee is charged with reviewing scientific and medical evidence to make recommendations on adding coverage for additional health conditions, we once again respectfully urge the Secretary and you to set up this panel in the next few weeks.
We feel strongly that there must be a scientific basis for adding coverage for new conditions under the Zadroga Act. However, given the severity of the illnesses reported in The Lancet, we also want to make sure that this and other peer-reviewed studies linking cancers to the attacks are evaluated as expeditiously as possible.
Thank you for your attention to this petition, and thank you for your work to establish a strong World Trade Center Health Program.
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
PETER T. KING
CHARLES E. SCHUMER
KIRSTEN E. GILLIBRAND
NYDIA M. VELÁZQUEZ
YVETTE D. CLARKE
Rep. Jerrold Nadler represents New York’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, the Financial District and Battery Park City. In Brooklyn, the 8th District includes parts of Borough Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Seagate.
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