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9/11 Rescue and Recovery Workers and Autoimmune Diseases

Asthma, COPD, cancers…now autoimmune diseases.

A new study from medical journal Arthritis and Rheumatology noted an increased risk of autoimmune diseases among 9/11 9/11 rescue and recovery workers autoimmunerescue and recovery workers. Many are aware that fire fighters and other responders are more likely to develop asthma and/or cancer due to their exposure to the toxic dust and smoke while working at ground zero. This new study demonstrates that 9/11 rescue and recovery workers are 13% more likely to develop an autoimmune disorder—most commonly rheumatoid arthritis—for each month he or she worked on the burning pile.

Not Just 9/11 Rescue and Recovery Workers

The study does not take into consideration other individuals in the area after 9/11, such as office workers, residents and students. But just as the risk of respiratory diseases and cancers was not limited to first responders, autoimmune diseases likely plague a number of residents, students and workers in the area as well. A recent NJ.com article told the story of Dave Innocenti, who worked on Wall Street and came back to work only a week after 9/11. Mr. Innocenti now has crippling arthritis that forced him to retire early. His story is not unique. Many Wall Street workers are now suffering from 9/11 related conditions or cancers.

The End of the Zadroga Act?

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) offers free treatment for qualifying first responders, office workers and residents who are afflicted with conditions, such as COPD, and over 60 cancers, but it does not cover treatment of autoimmune diseases. In truly ironic fashion, the WTCHP is now looking to extend its coverage to include treatment of autoimmune diseases…..about a year before the program is set to expire.

The WTCHP was established by the Zadroga Act, which also established the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The VCF compensates individuals afflicted with these debilitating conditions will expire as well. After October 2016, however, no treatment or compensation will be available to individuals suffering from these 9/11 related conditions and cancers.

Read more about the Reauthorization of the Zadroga Act here….

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