From Huffington Post:

Mike Burke was enjoying a round of golf with fellow firefighters when two hijacked planes struck the twin towers ten years ago.

“We immediately left to go to the Trade Center,” said Burke, then with Engine 201 of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He spent the rest of that day — and much of the night — laboring in the cloud of dust and debris at ground zero. He returned to the smoldering site again every day for the next two weeks, and then three days a week until February 2002.

Like so many others who worked at or lived near ground zero, Burke, 39, is now dealing with a lengthening list of health problems, the most troubling of which is kidney cancer. Officials originally told him the disease could not be tied to his time at ground zero.

“They said that there are no studies out there that can support it. I said, ‘No shit, there are no studies out there.’ We are the guinea pigs being studied.”

Years of rancorous political debate on Capitol Hill over which illnesses could be attributed to time spent at ground zero — and whether to provide health coverage for those illnesses — finally yielded the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was signed into law in January. The bill, named for a police officer considered by many to be the first to die from an illness tied to ambient pollutants at ground zero, provides $1.8 billion for medical costs relating to specific 9/11-related illnesses, as well as $2.7 billion to compensate victims for other associated losses.

Cancer, however, is not covered — although new research from the Fire Department of New York suggests that it should be, and that a new round of debate over the issue is in the offing.

Researchers estimate that somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of the more than 50,000 people who were exposed to the foul air and other environmental hazards at the site of the collapsed towers continue to suffer from a variety of ailments — from asthma and other respiratory illnesses to digestive problems and mental health disorders.

And while no one will ever know the full inventory of pollutants people were exposed to at ground zero — air monitors were not in place until days later — analyses of the dust that rose and lingered and then settled at the site have revealed a long list of potentially cancer-causing ingredients, from benzene and diesel exhaust to pulverized glass, hydrochloric acid, black soot, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine, lead, dioxins and hundreds of tons of asbestos.

“It was an unprecedented mix of proven human carcinogens and other toxic chemicals,” said Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

More.

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