Monday, January 17, 2011

Question looms on WTC health act: Who is covered?

From David B. Caruso of the Associated Press on Jan. 16:
NEW YORK -- There is no doubt that Richard Volpe is sick, and no doubt that the former police detective spent 9/11 breathing in clouds of soot at the World Trade Center.

Yet that is no guarantee that the ex-cop, or many others like him, will qualify for a substantial share of the $2.78 billion Congress has set to compensate people who fell ill after being exposed to ground zero toxins.

Like thousands of other rescue and recovery workers, Volpe suffers from an ailment that is not expressly covered by the law. Only a few diseases were singled out by name in the act, including asthma, certain types of lung disease and a handful of other respiratory ailments. They were included because research has suggested there is a link between those illnesses and the tons of caustic dust that blanketed lower Manhattan after the twin towers collapsed.

Federal administrators still have to decide whether to cover other conditions, like cancer, where there is less hard evidence of a tie to ground zero toxins.

Volpe's problem, a kidney disease called IgA nephropathy, is among those that haven't yet been linked to the dust.

"I'm hoping that when they set up the parameters ... my most serious illness is going to be included," said Volpe, who also suffers from mild respiratory problems.

"I got diagnosed at 34 years old. I was as healthy as I have ever been. To me, it's not a coincidence," he said of his exposure to the ash and dust and the sudden onset of his symptoms.


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