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Leaders Petition to Have Cancer Included Under Zadroga Act

By Ben Fractenberg | September 7, 2011 6:45pm

DOWNTOWN — Manhattan lawmakers are asking that cancer be included in the illnesses covered by James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Lawmakers including Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Charles Rangel filed a petition to 9/11 Health Program Administrator Dr. John Howard after the FDNY released a study last week that showed an elevated risk of melanoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and thyroid and prostate cancers among firefighters who responded to Ground Zero after the attacks.

"We didn't want to explain to any family why there are some diseases that have not been directly connected to the atmosphere in which these [responders] had to work," said Rangel at a press conference Wednesday outside the World Trade Center PATH train station. 

"Nobody should be suffering from cancer as a result of their trying to save people's lives," he added.

In July, Dr. Howard, who determines what illnesses are covered by the legislation, said cancer would not be covered under the Zadroga Act since there was not enough medical evidence linking it to first responders.

But those advocating for its inclusion, including singer Carole King, say that unlike other diseases, like respiratory ailments, cancer takes much longer to develop.

"Cancer has a long latency period, at least seven to 10 years," said Nadler.

The petition comes days before the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Some of the first responders stricken with cancer said it was emotional to be so close to Ground Zero so close to the anniversary.

"Half of me would love to forget it," said Det. John Walcott, 47, who was the first first responder to develop cancer. "Half of me can't forget it."