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Honoring the Eighteenth Anniversary of Detective James Zadroga’s Passing

January 5, 2024 | Michael Barasch

January 5, 2024 marks the eighteenth anniversary of the passing of NYPD Detective James Zadroga, a Barasch & McGarry client.

Detective Zadroga’s illness demonstrated the crisis of toxic exposure at Ground Zero and was a crucial part of the campaign to secure health care and compensation for half a million 9/11 responders and survivors.

A native of North Arlington, New Jersey, he joined the NYPD in 1992, and quickly moved through the ranks, earning a detective’s badge.

With thousands of other first responders, Detective Zadroga’s life changed forever on September 11, 2001. He went to Ground Zero to join the search-and-rescue and recovery efforts, ultimately working at the site for hundreds of hours.

And, like other first responders, Detective Zadroga was told the air at Ground Zero was safe to breathe. Neither he nor his colleagues were provided with adequate equipment to protect their lungs and general health.

The air in Lower Manhattan was not safe. It was filled with airborne toxins including pulverized glass and concrete, jet fuel, asbestos, and other harmful chemicals, increasing the risk of 69 types of cancer and many respiratory illnesses.

Only a few weeks after leaving Ground Zero, the previously healthy Detective Zadroga began experiencing serious health problems.

A non-smoker in his early thirties, with no history of respiratory illness, Detective Zadroga developed a persistent cough. Soon he became short of breath, unable to walk more than 100 feet without gasping for air.

Detective Zadroga died in 2006, at only 34-years-of-age. 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, providing health care and compensation to 9/11 responders and survivors, as well as their families.

Detective James Zadroga’s heroism and commitment to the men and women who served at Ground Zero continues to inspire the entire 9/11 community. We will never forget his invaluable contributions.

Barasch & McGarry, Lawyers for the 9/11 Community, represents more than 35,000 members of the 9/11 community.

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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