“In 2001, we witnessed a terrible national tragedy, and our country vowed to stand by our first responders,” said Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J. “Many of these brave men and women became sick because of the toxic conditions at Ground Zero, and the Zadroga law makes certain that these heroes get the health benefits they need. We have to honor first responders in the same way we honor our veterans, and this law is a step in the right direction.”
An estimated 14,000 workers and 2,400 community residents are sick from being exposed to toxic dust at Ground Zero. An additional 70,000 people are being monitored for health effects.
The Act establishes a federally funded World Trade Center Health Program, which is administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Responders eligible for the program include those who received monitoring and treatment services under previous programs for conditions associated with the World Trade Center attack. They automatically will be enrolled in the new program unless they decline. The Act also extends eligibility to apply for services to responders at the Shanksville, Penna., and Pentagon disaster sites.
Survivors can still go to the WTC Environmental Health Center to receive their initial screening exams and, if found to have a condition associated with the World Trade Center attack, receive treatment and monitoring services.
People that have been identified and diagnosed with a health condition specified in the James Zadroga Act will receive health monitoring and treatment services at no cost to them. The law also establishes a process by which additional health conditions can be covered under the program if scientific evidence links them to the 9/11 attacks.
The Zadroga Act was approved in the Senate on Dec. 22, 2010, and signed into law by the President on Jan. 2. A separate part of the Act provides for a September 11th Victim Compensation Fund administered by the U.S. Department of Justice.
For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/wtc/.