May 28, 2010

PBA President Urges White House to Fund 9/11 Health Study


PATRICK J. LYNCH: Presses Obama to act.  

The Obama Administration must come up with the funds for a study to prove that 9/11 first-responders with cancer developed it from their exposure to World Trade Center debris, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said last week.

The money was expected to be included with appropriations for ongoing 9/11 treatment programs, but was not, the Daily News reported May 19.

‘Did His Duty Without Question’

“We just buried Robert Oswain, a 42-year-old Police Officer, who responded to the World Trade Center site and did his duty without question only to die of cancer normally found in elderly people,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said. “It is well-documented that the collapse of the Twin Towers produced more carcinogenic material than has ever been found at a disaster site. It stands to reason that those exposed to these cancercausing materials would develop unusual cancers as a result.”

Officer Oswain’s family, his fellow officers and the PBA believe his cancer was caused by inhaling dust at Ground Zero after the attack. He died May 15 of mesothelioma, a rare and very aggressive cancer generally caused by exposure to asbestos. At least one other first-responder, Paramedic Deborah Reeve, died in 2006 of mesothelioma, and her doctors blamed the dust at Ground Zero.

Growing numbers of police officers are dying from diseases the union and the Police Department believe are related to 9/11. The department on May 7 added 12 officers who died in the line of duty to its Memorial Wall. Eleven are believed to have died from the effects of 9/11.

White House spokesman Bill Burton indicated that officials may find the money after all. “We are confident we will come to a satisfactory resolution,” he told the Daily News. U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler also are pushing for the money.

$2.8M At Stake

At issue is $1.3 million for the cancer study plus $1.5 million for health evaluations meant to be finished next year. Federal health officials had agreed to that funding last year, but President Obama’s budget office has been dragging its heels.

If a legal presumption that cancers were caused by 9/11 exposure is not included in upcoming 9/11 health legislation, each stricken first-responder will have to prove individually that his or her illness was the result of the World Trade Center attack.