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Greg Webb
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Feds Allow 9-11 Funds to Cover Certain Cancers

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Not a day passes that 9-11 does not exert itself in American life in some fashion—whether it is the additional time and attention devoted to our nation’s security, health or families. It is right and proper that as Americans we remember and care for our own and the loved ones of those who lost their lives due to 9/11. It is also right and proper that we care for those who participated in fighting the fires and cleaning up the debris and removing the remains following 9/11. And it is only fair that we care for those whose health has suffered residual effects of that horrific implosion and its aftermath, even those who were innocent bystanders.

Almost 11 full years after 9/11, Dr. John Howard, Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has ruled that 14 categories of cancer representing 50 different types of the disease in those exposed should be allowed to be covered by the $4.3 billion fund created to cover illnesses due to exposure to toxic dusts, smoke and fumes in the days following 9/11. The fiery destruction of the World Trade Center buildings and their contents cast an overwhelming amount of debris into the environment and atmosphere and is believed to be responsible for many illnesses. Not only those of rescue workers and firemen, but of volunteers, residents, people on the streets and children in nearby schools; they, too, have been affected by exposure to smoke, fumes and particles resulting from the immolation.

There will be a public comment period and subsequent review which could take months yet. And there are problems discerning how will this affect the people directly involved who were already covered by the fund. Will it proportionately lessen the amount of recompense to them, one wonders? The current decision by Dr. Howard is 180 degrees from his view a year ago, and one should probably thank a study released in the British scientific journal, The Lancet, for that. The study presented apparently incontrovertible evidence that firefighters who were exposed to the dust, smoke and fumes had a greater than 20 percent chance of cancer than those who were not exposed. In addition to The Lancet, a scientific and technical advisory committee had also made recommendations that the cancers be covered. According to The New York Times, the amount of compensation will depend upon "the severity of illness and duration of exposure." Survivors of patients who have died may apply for compensation also.

After these many years—after many who have suffered have died—one has to ponder why it is it so difficult to do the right thing. This should have been a "no-brainer".