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Honoring the Seventeenth Anniversary of NYPD Detective James Zadroga’s Passing

January 5, 2023 | Michael Barasch

January 5, 2023 marks the seventeenth anniversary of the death 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 9/11 first 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 was deployed 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 68 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 rally 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 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.

If you are diagnosed with any 9/11-related cancer or respiratory illnesses, Barasch & McGarry can help you access resources through the free World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)

Through the health program, 9/11 responders and survivors have access to free, comprehensive medical care for their 9/11-related illnesses. 

The victim fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.

If you were there, you have the right to register with the 9/11 VCF – even if currently healthy – and enroll in the WTC Health Program if you are diagnosed with a 9/11-related illness.

For the WTC Health Program, the exposure zone includes all of Manhattan below Houston Street and parts of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO in Brooklyn.

For the 9/11 VCF, the exposure zone includes the area of Manhattan south of Canal Street and west of Clinton Street.

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

If you were exposed to Ground Zero toxins, you should know your health status. Don’t let a delayed diagnosis become a death sentence.

Visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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