In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, it has become a well-known fact that first-responders and other workers at the cleanup of the fallen World Trade Center towers were exposed to dangerous toxins in the debris and dust. Many were affected in the days and months following 9/11. However, many more have and are likely to continue to get sick from this exposure years into the future. Our federal government has responded with funds to spur diagnosis and treatment through the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.
What not everyone is aware of, however, is that volunteers who were made sick by their presence in the crash zone (which also includes Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon, where the third and fourth planes crashed) are also eligible for Zadroga Act funds.
The Zadroga Act provides for employed and volunteer individuals involved in the rescue, recovery or debris cleanup or related support services in specified areas to be eligible for compensation if they become ill from their 9/11 work. In rough terms, their service had to have occurred in Manhattan south of Canal Street, or at the debris-shipping piers where barges were loaded before taking that debris to the Staten Island Fresh Kills landfill. Also included are workers at Fresh Kills.
Volunteers should be aware of several points:
- In a study of 20,984 first responders, volunteers and others onsite, 522 individuals were found to have experienced one or several types of cancers.
- The specific times individuals served as volunteers is part of the eligibility requirements. They had to have worked in the specified areas, such as below Canal Street, for four hours or more between September 11, 2001 and September 14, 2001 for 24 hours in those areas up until September 30, 2001, or for 80 hours or more up through July 31, 2002.
- Testing and treatment for conditions and their complications as specified by the Zadroga Act can also include conditions and their complications certified by a WTC program administrator.
Applying for compensation can be done without an attorney. However, a WTC compensation lawyer is more likely to make a stronger and more successful case.