Feds to rule on cancer aid for WTC dust exposure

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Combined, those illnesses strike nearly 1 million Americans each year, killing about 333,000, according to federal health statistics. The panel also recommended adding non-melanoma skin cancer, which afflicts another 2 million Americans annually.

Those statistics assure that, even if it turns out that trade center dust has little or no impact on a person’s risk of getting cancer, thousands of exposed people will get some form of the disease anyway as they age.

Elizabeth Ward, the head of intramural research at the American Cancer Society, and the chairwoman of the advisory panel, said it didn’t consider cost concerns, or the fairness of the compensation system, when making its recommendation.

“Many of these people were working in conditions that, in a normal workplace, people would walk out,” she said of the army of men and women who cleared ground zero of a mountain of rubble while breathing in particles that blackened their spit, irritated their eyes and throats, and made every breath uncomfortable.

“I think there is a very serious concern that these exposures were unique,” she said.

Howard has already reviewed the issue once before. Last year, he decided not to include cancer patients in the program, saying science had yet to show a link between trade center dust and any type of the disease.

This year, he could again defer a decision while more scientific research is conducted, or add some types of cancer to the coverage list, but exclude others. He also has the power to set up rules governing which cancer patients might be eligible, based on factors that might include the severity of their exposure to the dust.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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