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Letter to John Howard, Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Peter King, authors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, issued a joint statement, below, on the appointment today of members of the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee, a panel created under the Zadroga Act to review scientific and medical evidence and make recommendations to 9/11 Health Program Administrator Dr. John Howard on providing coverage for additional 9/11-related health conditions. Last month, the lawmakers wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking her to appoint the panel members by the tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Last week, the medical journal The Lancet published a peer-reviewed study by the New York City Fire Department that indicated an elevated risk of melanoma, thyroid and prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among firefighters who served at ground zero compared to the general population, and an overall increase in cancer among firefighters exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center site compared to firefighters who weren't exposed to those toxins. In response, the lawmakers yesterday filed a petition with Dr. Howard that requires him to consider within 60 days whether or not to add coverage for cancers under the Zadroga Act -- a decision Dr. Howard would make in consultation with the panel members appointed today.

Copies of the lawmakers' letter to Secretary Sebelius and petition to Dr. Howard can be found below.

"We're pleased that Secretary Sebelius so quickly set up the Zadroga-mandated panel that evaluates covering new diseases under the law, and that will help consider new research linking cancer with exposure to ground zero toxins," said Maloney, Nadler, and King.

"Given the severity of the illnesses reported in the Lancet study, we are hopeful that the panel members appointed today will strongly consider adding coverage for cancers under the Zadroga Act. Cancer-stricken 9/11 responders and survivors exposed to the deadly toxins need our help."

The Zadroga law provides health care for those injured or exposed to toxins released by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, and reopens the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund to provide economic relief to those harmed by the attacks. Please click here for a brief fact sheet on the health care and compensation provisions of the law.

September 7, 2011

John Howard, MD
Director
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
395 E Street SW, Suite 9200
Patriots Plaza Building
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Dr. Howard:

As the sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, we write to file a petition pursuant to Sec. 3312(a)(6) of the Zadroga Act requesting that you conduct an immediate review of new medical evidence showing increased cancer rates among firefighters who served at ground zero and that you consider adding coverage for cancer under the Zadroga Act.

We read with great concern -as we are sure you must have done- the study conducted by the New York City Fire Department and published last week in The Lancet that indicated an elevated risk of melanoma, thyroid and prostate cancer, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among firefighters who served at ground zero, compared to the general population, and an overall increase in cancers among firefighters exposed to toxins at the World Trade Center site, compared to firefighters who were not exposed to those toxins. As you know, the only peer-reviewed study of possible 9/11-related cancers prior to this one was a small study showing a possible rise in multiple myeloma among 9/11 responders.

On August 8, 2011, we wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting that she act quickly to form the Science/Technical Advisory Committee, as required by the Zadroga Act. A copy of that letter is enclosed. Since the Zadroga Act requires you to take action on our petition within sixty days, and since this committee is charged with reviewing scientific and medical evidence to make recommendations on adding coverage for additional health conditions, we once again respectfully urge the Secretary and you to set up this panel in the next few weeks.

We feel strongly that there must be a scientific basis for adding coverage for new conditions under the Zadroga Act. However, given the severity of the illnesses reported in The Lancet, we also want to make sure that this and other peer-reviewed studies linking cancers to the attacks are evaluated as expeditiously as possible.

Thank you for your attention to this petition, and thank you for your work to establish a strong World Trade Center Health Program.

Sincerely,

CAROLYN B. MALONEY
JERROLD NADLER
PETER T. KING
CHARLES E. SCHUMER
KIRSTEN E. GILLIBRAND
CHARLES RANGEL
NYDIA M. VELÁZQUEZ
MICHAEL GRIMM
YVETTE D. CLARKE


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