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Hearing of the U. S. Senate Committeee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on The Long-Term Health Impacts from September 11: A Review of ...

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Location: Washington, DC

Hearing of the U. S. Senate Committeee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on The Long-Term Health Impacts from September 11: A Review of Treatment, Diagnosis and Monitoring Efforts

OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

"I appreciate greatly both of you [Senators Kennedy and Enzi] for being at this hearing. Senator Enzi started this work when he was Chairman of this committee back in the fall and I'm very grateful to him. He and his staff have approached this with a seriousness of purpose, an open mind, and I thank them very much and your staff as well Senator Enzi. And of course Chairman Kennedy. There isn't anybody in Congress, probably in the country, who has done more to help people who are in need than he has. And I'm confident that with his leadership we will make progress on these problems we will support today at this hearing. I also want to recognize and thank my colleague and friend Congressman Jerry Nadler, who represents lower Manhattan. Congressman Nadler has been a very vigorous and sometimes lonely voice talking about the long term implications of what people experienced because of the horrific attacks on 9/11.

And I'd like to thank Mayor Bloomberg who has taken on this issue with a great deal of concern and put his staff on and lead experts. This report that the Mayor has issued addressing the health effects of 9/11 is a great road map. Both leading us from what the problems are and to potential solutions. We're going to hear from a range of witnesses. I'll have more to say about them as they testify today. But, each of them comes with experience and expertise that will be very beneficial to us as we try to craft a solution. And finally, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to recognize the people who are suffering with health problems and those who represent them.

We have a tremendous team here from New York. Obviously, the people who are on the front lines suffering are the ones who are the most compelling because what they have gone through.

People such as Steven Hess, an emergency medical technician, who used to easily be able to bench press 250 pounds, but now has trouble lifting his grandson.

Marvin Bethea, a paramedic who managed not only to escape being buried in a pile of debris, but continued to work day after day until 2004 when he could no longer, who has suffered both respiratory and mental health effects and a stroke that is attributed to the stresses he experienced.

Craig Hall, who lives in downtown Manhattan with this family. When he and his family returned to their apartment after 9/11, they began experiencing eye irritation, nose bleeds, persistent cough, sinus problems, allergies, and reduced lung capacity. The concerns he has for the future health of his children and the ailments that he and his neighbors are suffering brings him here today.

We also have some of the union officials who have been fighting for more assistance and without them and their leadership--and also, as Senator Enzi pointed out, without a lot of the union pension funds that helped benefit funding available--a lot of the people who we were worried about had no care what-so-ever. I want to recognize Denis Hughes, President of the New York State AFL-CIO; Steven Cassidy, President of the New York City Uniformed Firefighters Association; Ed Malloy, President of the Building and Construction Trades; Dick Ianuzzi, President of the New York State United Teachers and; representatives from the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, AFSCME, the police unions and others.

Now we will have in this audience people, every one of who could testify. Obviously, that is not possible, but they are here to bear witness. And when they have a chance to speak to the press or other forms of New York, their testimony is riveting, compelling and heartbreaking.

People like retired Detective Mike Valentin, who was caught in the dust and debris and when he came out from the collapse from the towers he began experiencing severe health effects. In July 2005, doctors discovered not only the 9/11 related asthma, but a tumor in his chest, a second tumor in his gall bladder, and changes to his lungs that are often a precursor of mesothelioma. All of which his doctors believe are linked to his exposures.

We cannot forget those who have already died. Individuals like Detective James Zadroga, whose death at age 34 was directly caused by his exposure to toxic fumes and dust at Ground Zero.

So, Mr. Chairman and ranking member Enzi, there are thousands of stories because there are tens of thousands of people who have been affected. The first responders; we have the workers, the volunteers, the residents. And we are determined to do whatever we can, both in the short term to make sure that the Fire Department and Mount Sinai have funding they need to continue treatment they have started, and then in the longer term to give us a program that we can say fully meets the needs of those who are suffering. So, Mr.Chaiman I will ask unanimous consent to put my whole statement in the record and I appreciate very much your holding this hearing."


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