9/11 Memorial & Museum Blog: Advocate for Affordable Health Care for Students Impacted By 9/11


News, discussion and information about the National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Lila Nordstrom: Advocate for Affordable Health Care for Former Students

Lila Nordstrom, founder of StuyHealth, will be a featured speaker in this year’s “Anniversary in the Schools” webinar.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Lila Nordstrom was a senior attending class on the top floor of Stuyvesant High School, just blocks away from the World Trade Center. She felt the building shake and witnessed the explosion when hijacked Flight 11 was flown into the North Tower.

Her teacher, who had been there during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, continued teaching through the collapse of the South Tower. Nordstrom left Stuyvesant just as the North Tower began to collapse and walked about ten miles into Queens, spending the night at a classmate’s house, before returning home the next day.

In the weeks after the attack, initial environmental reports led many to believe the air around Ground Zero was safe. After a partial cleaning, Stuyvesant High School reopened on Oct. 9, 2001. However, for Nordstrom and many other students, sinus and respiratory issues became common.

It would take years before exposures to the conditions near Ground Zero would be linked to health conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and rare cancers — conditions that would become expensive and difficult to treat. Witnessing such a devastating event and navigating the aftermath also impacted students’ mental health.

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Sept. 11th Victims’ Compensation Fund 5/10/18: Message from the Special Master

Message from Special Master Rupa Bhattacharyya

May 10, 2018
Dear Friends,

As a team, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) remains committed to awarding compensation as quickly and fairly as possible, and to handling each claim with the individual attention it deserves. The program statistics report we are issuing today reflects the strong and steady progress of the VCF under its current leadership team.
As of April 30, 2018, the VCF has rendered over 21,000 compensation determinations, including initial awards on new claims, and revised awards on claims with amendments or appeals. These determinations total over $3.6 billion awarded to VCF claimants. In all, the VCF has compensated claims from more than 13,600 responders to the attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon, and at the Shanksville site, as well as almost 2,800 others who lived, worked, or traveled through areas of lower Manhattan and were exposed to debris and toxins generated by the attacks and their aftermath.

I am particularly pleased to report on the hard work of the entire VCF team. In the nearly two years since I was appointed Special Master, the VCF has issued more than 4,000 eligibility approvals, more than 12,000 compensation determinations, and nearly $1.8 billion in awards, nearly equaling the amount of funds paid out in the first five years of the program. In addition, we have made substantial progress in working through the oldest claims filed with the VCF. At the beginning of last year, in January 2017, the VCF had over 3,000 claims that were submitted in 2015 or earlier. Today, we have just over 1,300 claims submitted in 2016 or earlier, many of which were on hold for long periods due to missing information. We continue to make these oldest claims our first priority.
This is a record to be proud of, but I continue to remain focused on what more needs to be done. As we see increasing numbers and types of illnesses befalling this heroic community, I am acutely aware of the need to process claims as expeditiously as possible. As a team, the VCF strives to improve efficiencies without compromising thoroughness, to reach resolutions while remaining true to the statutes and regulations that govern the VCF, and to remain mindful that each claim represents an individual life that was forever changed that day.

I hope you find the information in today’s report helpful, and encouraging. We remain vigilant and faithful to a process that provides important recognition and compensation to a deserving group of individuals. It is my distinct honor to serve this community, and, along with my dedicated and talented team, I remain deeply committed to the mission of the VCF and to sharing reports of our continuing progress.
As always, if you have questions about the VCF claims process, I encourage you to call our toll-free Helpline at 1-855-885-1555. For the hearing impaired, please call 1-855-885-1558 (TDD). If you are calling from outside the United States, please call 1-202-514-1100.

Best regards,Rupa

ABC News 5/10/18: Victims’ Fund Awards $4B As Number of 9/11 Illnesses Increases

9/11 victims fund awards $4B amid ‘increasing numbers and types of illnesses’

PHOTO: A New York City Firefighter makes his way amid the rubble of the World Trade Center following the attacks on the Twin Towers, Sept. 11, 2001.
A New York City Firefighter makes his way amid the rubble of the World Trade Center following the attacks on the Twin Towers, Sept. 11, 2001

The terror attacks of Sept. 11 are still taking a toll nearly 17 years later.

Add September 11th as an interest to stay up to date on the latest September 11th news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

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Those exposed to toxins and debris in Lower Manhattan are reporting “increasing numbers and types of illnesses,” the special master for the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund said Thursday in a new report.

To date the fund has awarded nearly $4 billion to nearly 14,000 responders to the attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The 2,800 others who lived, worked or traveled through lower Manhattan have also been compensated for their exposure to the toxic dust generated when the World Trade Center towers fell.

The claims are still coming as victims age and develop symptoms.

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Myeloma Research News 5/7/18: Report Finds 9/11 Firefighters at More Risk of Multiple Myeloma

9/11 Firefighters at Greater Risk of Multiple Myeloma Precursor, Study Reports

9/11 Firefighters at Greater Risk of Multiple Myeloma Precursor, Study Reports

New York City firefighters exposed to the 9/11 World Trade Center (WTC) disaster are at greater risk for developing a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), which may lead to multiple myeloma, a study suggests.

The study, “Multiple Myeloma and Its Precursor Disease Among Firefighters Exposed to the World Trade Center Disaster,” appeared in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) firefighters and other 9/11 first responders were exposed to unprecedented levels of compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, asbestos, and other potential carcinogens. They were also exposed to significant levels of diesel smoke from the heavy machinery used in the 10-month rescue and recovery effort.

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JAMA Reports 6/18: Estimation of Future Cancer Burden for 9/11 Responders

June 2018

Estimation of Future Cancer Burden Among Rescue and Recovery Workers Exposed to the World Trade Center Disaster

Key Points

Question  What is the estimated number of new cancer cases among rescue and recovery workers exposed to carcinogenic agents during the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center (WTC) attack for the January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2031, period?

Findings  An estimated 2960 new cancer cases in the WTC-exposed cohort (n = 14 474) may occur during this 20-year period. Analyses restricted to white male workers showed greater cancer incidence than would be expected based on NYC rates for this demographic group, corresponding to a significantly elevated number of projected cases (2714 vs 2596).

Meaning  The future cancer burden in WTC-exposed rescue and recovery workers may be greater than expected based on a demographically similar population.

Importance  Elevated rates of cancer have been reported in individuals exposed to the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster, including Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) rescue and recovery workers.

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Daily Mail 4/26/18: Reports Shows 9/11 Firefighters Getting Cancer Sooner Than Thought

Cancer is hitting 9/11 firefighters earlier and harder than previously thought, new report finds

  • Two reports on 9/11-related cancers were published today by JAMA 
  • One showed that cancer is striking the surviving first-responders 10 to 15 years earlier than it would in the general population
  • The second showed that a certain rare type of blood cancer (multiple myeloma) is more aggressive in responders, and they have double the rate of its precursor

Two major reports warn 9/11 survivors may have a more severe risk of cancers than previously thought – and the chemicals they were exposed to make their diseases more aggressive than usual.

More than 17 years on from the attacks, scores of studies have shown the thousands of men and women who rushed to the scene of the falling Twin Towers have a higher risk of a myriad of conditions, from cancers to PTSD to digestive issues.

But the true scale is only just coming to light as the victims enter middle age, and the rate of diagnoses – and deaths – sky-rocket.

In a new report published today by the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reveal new data showing that cancer is striking the surviving first-responders 10 to 15 years earlier than it would in the general population.

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LA Times 4/26/18: Increased Risk of Cancer for 9/11 Firefighters

For firefighters who worked in World Trade Center rubble, the future includes a heightened risk of cancer

For firefighters who worked in World Trade Center rubble, the future includes a heightened risk of cancer
Firefighters make their way through the rubble of the World Trade Center. The work probably made them more likely to develop certain types of cancer, according to new research. (Doug Kanter / AFP-Getty Images)

It’s been nearly 16 years since cleanup work officially ended at New York City’s ground zero, but the health effects for rescue and recovery workers are still making themselves known.

Two studies published Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology suggest that the firefighters who came to lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center face a heightened risk of cancer — and will continue to do so for years to come.

From the time that airliners flew into the twin towers through the months it took to remove the wreckage, ground zero was replete with substances that are either known or suspected carcinogens. Dust from the collapsed buildings, smoke from smoldering fires and exhaust from heavy equipment put workers in contact with asbestos, glass fibers, lead, dioxins, PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and other hazards.

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Kirsten Gillibrand 4/24/18: NY Senators Demand Investigation of 9/11 Scam

Schumer, Gillibrand Demand Special DOJ IG Probe Into Scam Targeting September 11th Victims Compensation Fund Recipients; Vcf Is Overseen By Doj & Senators Say Fed Agency Must Swiftly Determine Who Is Going After 9/11 Vics And How

Senators Say DOJ Must Determine Who Is Behind 9/11 VCF Scam In Order To Fully Assess Its Impact, Schumer, Gillibrand: 9/11 Families Have Suffered Enough

Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today wrote a letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz demanding an investigation into a scam targeting ill and injured 9/11 responders. Scammers are contacting the responders, claiming to be with the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), and requesting personal and private information.

“Targeting 9/11 families to trick them into stealing their sensitive health and financial information is sick and twisted and demands immediate attention by the Department of Justice. 9/11 families have suffered enough and that is why the DOJ, which oversees the VCF, must move fast and open a formal investigation to identify the perpetrators and their methods. My message to these scammers is simple: you can run but you cannot hide. Any attempts to further inflict pain on 9/11 families will not stand – you will be caught and brought to justice,” said Senator Schumer.

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NY Daily News 4/22/18: Scammers Calling 9/11 Victims for Information

Sick scam: Callous fraudsters target ill 9/11 heroes

Sick scam: Callous fraudsters target ill 9/11 heroes
Some 9/11 first responders who have become ill as a result of their work have become the targets of scams. (Maisel, Todd)

First responders left sickened by the toxic fumes they inhaled at Ground Zero are now falling prey to something else — scam artists, the Daily News has learned.

A crew of callous cons have been reaching out to sufferers from 9/11-related illnesses, claiming to be members of the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

The fraudsters claim they need to confirm some information and want the fund enrollees to rattle off their addresses, Social Security numbers and other information that could be used in a host of identity theft scams, officials said.

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Daily News 4/20/18: Feds Still Plan to Restructure 9/11 Agency

Mulvaney, feds stay put on plan to restructure 9/11 health agency

Mulvaney, feds stay put on plan to restructure 9/11 health agency
Despite pleas from New York lawmakers, White House budget Director Mick Mulvaney is staying the course on his agency’s controversial plan to restructure the World Trade Center Health Program. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The federal government isn’t budging on its plans to rejigger the agency that oversees the health treatment and monitoring of first responders with 9/11 illnesses — a move legislators feel will severely compromise both the program and the people who need it to survive.

In a letter sent to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), U.S. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the World Trade Center Health Program should thrive under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rather than its current home within the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The plan to move the WTC Health Program into the CDC was part of the proposed federal 2019 budget, which has yet to be approved.

Mulvaney insisted the move will be beneficial.

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