By now, many have heard about or read the recent release of the report, Periodic Review of Scientific and Medical Evidence Related to Cancer for the WTC Health Program. The Public Health Service Act, which codified the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, requires the Administrator of the WTC Health Program, currently Dr. John Howard the Director of NIOSH, to make a determination on diseases from 9-11 exposures based on a review of all available scientific and medical evidence published in peer-reviewed journals.
The basic finding contained in the report is that the WTC Health Program found that there was insufficient evidence existing at this time to propose a rule to add cancer, or a certain type of cancer, to the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions. This is to be addressed annually, so it will come up again next year.
Most importantly, this does NOT affect the fire fighter presumption disease legislation in New York City and New York State.
Yes, we are well aware of the numbers of our members that have cancer and died from cancer since they responded to the 9/11 tragedy. We also know our members were exposed to a wide range of toxic and carcinogenic substances at the WTC site. In fact in New York City alone, there are now 33 fire fighter and fire officer deaths that have been certified by the New York City Fire Department Pension Board as 9/11 related. However, at this point there has not been a medical or scientific journal study published that has addressed fire fighter cancer as it relates to the WTC exposures.
This is about to change. FDNY’s Medical Division, lead by Drs. David Prezant and Kerry Kelly, has now completed the first cancer study where they have examined cancers occurring within the first seven years post-9/11 in a population of 10,000 firefighters. The study will be published in Lancet, one of the world's leading medical journals, this September.
Once published, the facts will be in and available to make the decision to include cancer. We of course will be following this issue and will continue our drive to have these fire fighter occupational cancers included.
Dr. Howard, as well as Dr. Kelly and Dr. Prezant will be at the IAFF Redmond Symposium and Barbera EMS Conference in New York City this August. We will be also having numerous sessions addressing fire fighter occupational diseases, including cancer. Hope to see you there!