13 February 2012    


Bill de Blasio, responders demand 9/11-related cancer data

Tests on the uniform of Officer Alonzo Harris revealed asbestos and other toxins.

ALISON BOWEN
METRO

The last thing NYPD officer Alonzo Harris did the night of 9/11 was put his uniform in double plastic bags and bury it in his closet.

Eleven years later, after finding nodules on his lungs, he sent the uniform for testing to see what toxins might be inside.

The uniform showed a disturbing level of cancer-causing chemicals, including asbestos, a doctor said Sunday.

According to the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, 65 officers have died from 9/11-related cancers.

Nearly 300 have been diagnosed, at an average age of 44, said PBA president Patrick Lynch, adding, "Sadly, there will be many more to come."

"The formula is clear and simple," he said. "A vast array of carcinogens plus extended exposure equals dead and dying police officers."

The PBA is one of several responders' groups pushing for cancer data to be released. In September, an FDNY study revealed that firefighters who worked at Ground Zero were more likely to develop cancer.

The city is conducting its own study, which Health Department officials said they will submit to a journal by March.

This morning, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio said he requested cancer-related research from Mayor Michael Bloomberg on officers who worked on Ground Zero.

He asked for a list of all NYPD officers who worked at the World Trade Center, and a list of those who have cancer, by Feb. 24.

Bloomberg told reporters last week that the city will release the data, but they are balancing privacy issues involved.

Tomorrow, responders will appear at a World Trade Center Health Program committee hearing to discuss health problems, including cancer. Federal officials will decide in March whether to include cancer in its coverage provided by the Zadroga Act.

Call to reveal findings

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to "loosen the city's grip" on its 9/11 cancer findings. Assemblyman Micah Kellner wrote a bill that requires the NYPD to give the names of anyone who worked at Ground Zero to medical institutions studying cancer.

What's in that dust?

Dr. Richard Lee, who tested Police Officer Alonzo Harris' uniform, said the contaminants found in the World Trade Center dust were "created by the extreme forces acting on building materials, such as insulation during the collapse of the buildings, and by the ensuing fires that consumed the spilled fuels, building contents and construction materials."

He said the dust includes heavy metals, asbestos, concrete particles and chemicals produced by burning.

Each of these, he said, can "cause various harmful effects on the body."

In addition, he said, asbestos fibers found in the dust around the World Trade Center — and in Harris' uniform — were three to 50 times more toxic than fibers found in other asbestos-containing buildings.

By the numbers

65 officers have died from cancer.

297 officers with the NYPD?have been diagnosed with cancer.

9,853 An FDNY study of 9,853 firefighters found that those who worked at Ground Zero were more likely to develop cancer.