New York Daily News

Feb. 15, 2012


 

List of 9/11 first-responder cops with cancer to be handed over to Mount Sinai Medical Center

Data will help scientists studying Ground Zero's health effects

By Tina Moore
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
Officer Alonzo Harris, a 9/11 responder who was buried under World Trade Center rubble, found carcinogens on the uniform he wore that day.

The names of about 34,000 NYPD cops who toiled at Ground Zero after 9/11 will be handed over to a hospital conducting cancer research, the city said Wednesday.

Police union officials had asked the NYPD since November to give the data to Mount Sinai Medical Center to help prove that exposure to World Trade Center toxins leads to an increased risk of cancer.

The NYPD had refused, citing privacy concerns. But on Wednesday, the Bloomberg administration changed course, saying it will provide the cops' names, birth dates and addresses so long as they give their permission. Mount Sinai will still have to contact the officers to obtain their medical history.

"We are committed to working with Mount Sinai to share this information as quickly as possible," Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said.

Many 9/11 responders and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association believe that the data will build a case for adding cancer to the list of illnesses automatically covered by the federal James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

While they welcomed the news Wednesday, union officials feared that the city's foot-dragging had left little time to convince the feds, who set a March 2 deadline to determine whether the act should include cancer.

"We appreciate the belated gesture but believe that it provides no useful information in the short term and that the city's obligation to release information that will establish a cancer rate should still be memorialized in a law," PBA President Patrick Lynch said.

Lynch also said the city should be mandated to publish the numbers of responders who developed cancer without identifying them.

City and state lawmakers had been in the process of drafting legislation to compel the NYPD into releasing the data before the city's about-face.

"It's time for this administration and the federal government to stop the foot-dragging and finally treat the men and women who served us so well with the dignity they deserve," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a mayoral hopeful.

A study last year found modest increases in cancer among FDNY first responders. Those findings led Mount Sinai to research the cancer rate among a group of 20,000 people enrolled in a medical program tracking their exposure to WTC dust, said hospital spokesman Ian Michaels.

The new data on cops will further the research, he said.

"This information will help our doctors to conduct analyses of patterns of cancer in 9/11 responders and to make informed decisions about the future care of these patients," Mount Sinai said in a statement.