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9/11 Environmental Toxins and Cancer Risk

There are ways to reduce your cancer risk. Quit smoking. Eat healthy. Use sun screen. We take it for granted that exposure to certain chemicals or energy sources can trigger the proliferation of cancerous cells in the body. However, scientists are often reluctant to make claims about particular causes of cancer.

For instance, a report by the 2010 Presidents Cancer Panel highlighting the dangers of environmental toxins was met with skepticism. The panel claimed that pollutants in our air, water, and food are responsible for far more cancers than the American Cancer Society estimate of 5 percent. Since it is difficult — impossible, really — to isolate all the factors that might have contributed to the development of any cancer case, scientists are cautious about making links. However, as one healthcare authority stated, “We should not wait until the bodies are counted to say, ‘Well, maybe people should not be exposed so much to that chemical.'”

There is no question that the dust at Ground Zero and the surrounding area contained dangerous substances, including carcinogenic asbestos, heavy metals, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. And there is also no question that rescue and recovery personnel and New York residents had heavy exposure to these toxins. The sad truth is that many of these people have subsequently suffered grave, sometimes fatal, illnesses, including cancer.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health wisely used common sense as well as scientific evidence in their decision to include 50 types of cancer to the list of 9/11 illnesses covered by the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

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