Skip to comments.9/11 Responders Face Uncertain Future
Posted on 03/14/2006 11:12:58 AM PST by Calpernia
For most of the past four years, they have been silent. But now some gravely ill New Jerseyans who toiled at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 are sharing their stories with Millennium Radio.
They are the men and women who could benefit from legislation inspired by reports on Millennium Radio and being crafted by State Senator Joe Vitale (D-Woodbridge). Vitale is working on a bill that would provide a presumption to 9/11 responders that their illnesses were caused by their exposure to the toxic air they breathed both at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills landfill. Then they would be eligible for ongoing, line-of-duty, work-related benefits.
Gary Acker of Columbus, a former AT&T worker who spent many a 12-hour shift near the pile, now has multiple myeloma. He survived the stem cell transplant that he says usually kills 75% of multiple myeloma patients, but says he may only have a few years left to live. Of those who get past the stem cell phase, 75% die within the first 5 years. "I used to win gold medals in the Empire State Games in the [upper age] categories in the hammer, javelin and shot put," says Acker. "And I didn't smoke."
"I know why I got sick," he says. "We had no masks, no respirators, the company provided nothing. I spend an awful lot of time in front of the television right now or sleeping. I have no energy. My energy level is down... but I am alive."
Acker is among more than 5,000 Ground Zero workers who have signed up for a class action lawsuit pending in Manhattan Federal Court that accuses government officials and construction contractors of exposing workers to dangerous levels of toxins at Ground Zero and the Fresh Kills landfill. Acker's attorney is David Worby.
"Gary's problems, for the medical community in New Jersey to learn, is a blood cell cancer. They are related to the leukemias. They all arise from cells that are working their way into the bone marrow, in lay person's terms to become normal white blood cells, they are 'malignacizing'. That's what leukemia is, that's what the multiple myelomas are, the non-Hodgkins lymphomas diseases. We now have dozens of people with these types of problems. And the single most important culprit was the benzene from the 91,000 liters of jet fuel lying on the ground burning for four months. And then the jet fuel benzene accelerates in its latency periods for blood cells cancers, myelomas, non-Hodgkins lymphomas, and leukemias when its in the prescence of dioxin and [other toxins]," says Worby.
Studies show that the air around Ground Zero contained a poisonous mix of pulverized concrete, powdered glass, asbestos, lead, mercury and cancer-causing compounds from burning jet and diesel fuel. Mount Sinai Medical Center doctors, who are monitoring the health of 15,000 responders, have identified patterns of symptoms that go far beyond the well-documented ailment known as World Trade Center cough. About 40% to 50% have persistent lower respiratory disease, and half have nasal and sinus problems. Many suffer from acid reflux.
An estimated 40,000 people responded to the collapse and worked on the recovery for months afterward. Twenty-three of them have died, according to attorneys and relatives of WTC recovery personnel. Some 9/11 related advocacy groups place the death toll even higher.
New York City officials and doctors who have treated Ground Zero workers warn that a medical connection has yet to be establshed. Affected workers face the likelihood of expensive medical treatments for years to come, but the federal government has put little aside to pay their health care tab.
Vincent Guastamacchi of Bedford, New Jersey, a heavy construction worker who volunteered on the pile the night after the attacks, tells me what he wants as he looks ahead to an uncertain future. He has bladder and prostate cancers and sever breathing problems.
"Just take care of us like they took care of every body else," he says as tears well up in his eyes. "We did the dirty work. We gave them back that site seven-months ahead of schedule. Just the money they saved on that alone would more than take care of us."
Out of curiosity - what would be an average slice of Americans for deaths and disease for 40,000 people? Is this a cause and effect or is it in the statistically normal range?
Again it the attorneys who go chasing the money...
Rudy tried to get the men to work in shifts but they refused.
This raised their pay significantly so that when they retired they had a nice paycheck.
There are many reasons for some of the illnesses but sadly, many simply refused to heed the warnings out of real zeal to effect rescues that never happened or simply out of a wish to inrease the amounts in their paychecks.
I don't know.
We weren't all offered masks in the first 2 weeks. Equipment became available once it got more organized.
Were all the masks rotting in a warehouse in Hope, Arkansas?
It's hard to say.
Some of these people will be victims of 9/11, some will get ill from what they did at the WTC.
There were a lot of problems trying to get people to wear masks, which were truly insufficient in some cases for the work that was being done. Some needed to be wearing respirators which provide a better fit.
In some cases eagerness to save lives by some volunteers will add to the death count from 9/11, because they put themselves last. But then most heroes do that, don't they.
What you did, if you are implying that you worked down at that site, is a wonderful act of humanity and I pray that you stay well and are someday able to forget the horrors of what you saw. I cant imagine the bravery and stamina of the folks that went and helped there. Thank you.
I also cant imagine that it wasn't completely toxic there and, though I'm certainly not litigious, the people who gave so comletely of themselves deserve protection and the best medical that money can provide.
Just got on FreeRepublic a couple of minutes ago. Has it been down all morning or is it just me?
My husband went for his yearly certification in "hazardous waste" earlier this month and they discussed this situation. The instructor talked about a toxin produced by the millions upon millions of florescent lights in the Towers and how it's effecting first responders. The diagnosis is a rather large name, but I'll ask him when he gets home tonight.
ALSO DISCUSSED IN THE OSHA MEETING:
The EPA was supposed to be monitoring the air. The interesting thing was that no independent air monitoring companies were allowed to test......(donning my tinfoil hat)
If anyone has any further info on this I'd love a link and I'd love to make a little noise & or trouble about this! Sounds like a coverup.
It was impossible to not know that the air was contaminated.
Further it only rained once in the following month so the air couldn't even be cleaned by rain.
The WTC burned for about one month. The air was constantly filled with smoke from the fires and from the particles that continuously fell from the roof and sides of buildings.
Other than an evacuation I don't see what could have been done.
Just got off the phone with my husband and he said that there are numerous illnesses. Two that I can remember were: Syllacyosys (sp) a black lung type disease and a Mercury poisoning disease due to the mercury in the lights.
The WTC burned 100 days.
But,why no independent monitoring of the air quality???? I find that the most troublesome.
You have freepmail.
Are the affected workers being bounced through a liability coverage problem from their employer, or has the US Gov't accepted responsibility and the medical bills just haven't been paid yet? Are they being denied treatment??
On the surface this looks like a redundant coverage bill.
There were concerns about air quality from day one:
The Government must accept responsibility.
Found more links"
There will always be 10% who don't deserve it and 10% who scam the system, but for the sake of our First Responders "TO BE", the last thing they should have to worry about is whether or not they will be thrown to the wolves should they become ill as a result of their heroic actions.
Pass the bill, sign it into law and take care of our FIRST RESPONDERS, NOW!!!
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