New York Daily News

Feb. 13, 2012


 

Cancer-causing toxins found on uniform of Officer Alonzo Harris, who survived being buried at WTC

Officials hope discovery will help determine cancer rate among 9/11 first responders

By Vera Chinese AND Barry Paddock
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Police officer and 9/11 first responder Alonzo Harris's discussed carcinogens found on his uniform during a press conference on Sunday. Photo by Kevin Hagen for New York Daily News  
Kevin Hagen for New York Daily News  
Police officer and 9/11 first responder Alonzo Harris's discussed carcinogens found on his uniform during a press conference on Sunday.  

Cancer-causing toxins have been found on the uniform worn by a cop who survived being buried in World Trade Center debris on 9/11.

"It's a reality check for all of us," Officer Alonzo Harris, the owner of the uniform, said on Sunday.

Police union officials hope the discovery will prompt the NYPD to release the list of cops who worked at Ground Zero to scientists trying to determine the cancer rate among first responders.

Harris had reported for work at a traffic control post near the World Trade Center when the first tower fell on Sept. 11.

"I had to run for my life toward Broadway and dive under a car," he recalled.

After being treated at Bellevue Hospital and making it home later that day, he sealed his uniform inside two plastic bags and stashed it in his closet.

He went on to work more than 700 hours in the recovery and clean up at Ground Zero.

After nodules were found on his lungs and he began suffering diminishing pulmonary function, he had the uniform tested last August.

Two carcinogens — asbestos and dioxins — were found on the uniform, according to the tester, Dr. Richard Lee, of RJ Lee Group.

"Think of this as the World Trade Center cocktail," Lee said.

Officials with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association want the NYPD to hand over the names of cops who worked at Ground Zero and a list of those who developed cancer to Mount Sinai Medical Center scientists studying the cancer rate among first responders.

The NYPD's surgeon has refused, citing privacy concerns.

Legislation being drafted in Albany would compel the NYPD to release the info.

PBA officials believe releasing the medical data on first responders will help build a case to add cancer to the list of illnesses automatically covered by the federal James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Sixty-five cops have died from 9/11-related cancers and 297 more have been diagnosed, according to PBA officials.