Today, February 8, 2023, would have been NYPD Detective James Zadroga’s 52nd birthday.
A native of Arlington, New Jersey, and a Barasch & McGarry client, Detective Zadroga was a 9/11 first responder whose premature death demonstrated that the air near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan was toxic.
His illness provided crucial evidence demonstrating that exposure to Ground Zero toxins results in an increased risk of cancer and respiratory illness, supporting the campaign to secure free health care and compensation for tens of thousands of 9/11 first responders and survivors.
Zadroga joined the NYPD in 1992 and moved quickly through the ranks, earning a detective’s badge.
On September 11, 2001, he was deployed to Ground Zero to join the search-and-rescue and recovery efforts. He worked at the World Trade Center site for several hundred hours.
Officials told Detective Zadroga and the other 500,000 people in Lower Manhattan that the air was safe to breathe, and neither he nor his colleagues were provided with adequate equipment to protect their lungs and general health.
But the air actually contained airborne toxins including pulverized glass and concrete, jet fuel, asbestos, and other harmful chemicals.
Only a few weeks after leaving Ground Zero, the once-healthy Detective Zadroga began experiencing serious health problems.
Although he was a non-smoker without any history of respiratory illness, he developed a persistent cough. Soon he was short of breath, unable to walk more than 100 feet without gasping for air.
Detective Zadroga was 34-years-old when he passed away. An autopsy found severe scarring in his lungs, as well as toxic Ground Zero dust.
His death became a rallying cry for the 9/11 community, resulting in the enactment of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010, which offered desperately-needed support for 9/11 victims and their families.
Detective James Zadroga’s heroism continues to inspire the entire 9/11 community. We will never forget his many contributions.
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