The connection between 9/11 survivors and an increased risk of cancer has been known for years — but the latest numbers of those diagnosed are startling.
As of June 30 this year, 5,441 people enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program have been diagnosed with 6,378 instances of cancer — so some have been struck by more than one type, the New York Post reported this week.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is set to expire in October 2016 unless it receives further funding from Congress.
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That current number is triple what was seen just 2.5 years ago. In January 2014, there were 1,822 cancer diagnoses among Ground Zero responders and others who lived, worked, or went to school near the Twin Towers when the towers came down.
“You see an alarming increase,” Dr. Michael Crane, medical director of the WTC Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital, told the Post. “It’s been steady for at least the last year and a half. We’re seeing new people here being certified for cancer 10 to 15 times a week … every week. ”
So far — at least among those documented within the system — 1,140 have died, the Post added.
Dozens of types of cancer are believed to be related to the toxic smoke and dust of 9/11 — due mainly to the carcinogenic particles of asbestos, fiberglass, mercury, and benzene that covered survivors and clogged the lungs of thousands in the area when the towers fell. Those afflicted have been able to seek payments from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
Funding had been slated to run out on both the Victim Compensation Fund and the WTC Health Program this fall, but Congress voted last year to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which included reauthorization of the VCF.
The new law extends the VCF for five years, allowing individuals to submit claims until Dec. 18, 2020. The law also includes some important changes to the VCF’s policies and procedures for evaluating claims and calculating each claimant’s loss.
The VCF began accepting new claims again on Aug. 1, 2016, when the new claim form was made available, and it will continue to accept claims until Dec. 18, 2020, as required by the reauthorization, according to Nicole A. Navas, spokesperson and public affairs specialist at the Department of Justice. As of Aug. 15, 179 claims have been submitted using the new form, she told LifeZette.
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The renewed legislation increases the VCF’s total funding — the new law makes the original $2.775 billion appropriation available immediately to pay claims and provides an additional $4.6 billion in funding that becomes available in October 2016.