The underlying claim is that, in working continuously around the toxic dust and chemicals surrounding the collapsed World Trade Center buildings, emergency responders have suffered a myriad of health related issues. It certainly is not a stretch to conclude that asthma and other pulmonary conditions could result from working in such conditions. However, it appears that pretty much any and all health issues arising with emergency responders working at the site, such as cancer, are now being tied to those hazardous conditions.
I recall the years of litigation regarding the Dow-Corning and the leaking silicone breast implants. Women were claiming a broad range of illnesses on the defective product. Dow paid out millions of dollars in damages after losing their case in court. However subsequent studies have since shown that the illnesses claimed by the women occur no more frequently in the implant recipients than in the general population at large who did not receive the implants.
Though scientific advances in detecting and curing cancer have increased in recent years, various cancers are still one of the largest causes of death in our society. How are we to objectively evaluate that all the claims of diseases suffered by the 9/11 first responders stem directly from their working at the World Trade Center site?
Science will take a back seat to emotional appeals, in this situation, as the "heroes" we all love to love ask of us to acknowledge their sacrifice. But in the run-up to this legislation, I have not seen any independent studies which compare the types of diseases (excluding pulmonary related) claimed from the WTC site exposure and comparing them to the prevalence of the same diseases in the general population.
"Doctors aren't sure, though, exactly how many people are ill, and scientific doubt persists about just how many of the hundreds of illnesses are actually linked to the trade center dust. Doctors still don't know whether there is any connection between the dust and potentially fatal illnesses like cancer" 1The political irony here is that police and fire fighters generally tend to lean politically conservative and usually support Republican candidates. During the upcoming election cycles I hope these workers remember which party was the one arguing AGAINST their interests.
For me, the bottom line is that the controversy over this bill would be completely unnecessary were we to have in place a National Health Care System which would take care of ALL sick people, whatever their cause or reason. Why do a few select Americans, who by the way chose a hazardous profession, get to have their health care covered and not their fellow citizens who worked in fields or factories or have simply had the unfortunate luck of having been a victim of probability? Who in Congress speaks for these "heroes"?
The legislation is named for James Zadroga, a police detective who died at age 34. His supporters say he died from respiratory disease contracted at ground zero, but New York City's medical examiner said Zadroga's lung condition was caused by prescription drug abuse. 11. 9/11 First Responders Health Care Bill Faces Key Test Vote In Senate - Huffington Post, December 24, 2010