9/11 cops’ cancer woe
Average age just 44: PBA
By SALLY GOLDENBERG
Last Updated: 12:57 PM, February 6, 2012
Posted: 1:12 AM, February 6, 2012
A startling number of healthy, young cops who responded to the 9/11 attacks have since been diagnosed with cancer, according to new data obtained by The Post.
The statistics — which show nearly a tripling in the number of cops applying for cancer-related disability pensions post-9/11 — are the first of their kind to become public and confirm the fears of at least 12,000 police officers who toiled amid the rubble at the toxic World Trade Center site.
There are 297 cops who have been diagnosed with cancer since working at Ground Zero — and the average age is a shocking 44 at the time of diagnosis, according to the data from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
The cancers range from lung — which is the most prevalent, with 19 cases — to rarer cancers that affect the bile duct, tongue and nasal passages, according to the data obtained from a random sampling of retired cops.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, 56 cops have died from cancer, the PBA said.
And an average of 16 cops are applying annually for cancer-related disabilities since the terror attacks, compared with about six a year before 9/11.
The numbers, advocates say, will push federal authorities to include cancer in the list of ailments covered by the Zadroga Act.
A decision on that will be made in March.
It will also put stiff pressure on the Bloomberg administration to release its own data on cancer rates among the NYPD — which so far, City Hall has resisted doing, citing privacy rules.
A mayoral spokeswoman said only that a study, conducted by the city, will be submitted to a journal for peer review by March.
The NYPD would not give its data to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, which treats first responders and has repeatedly requested it for its own study on whether working at Ground Zero contributed to cancer.
“It is our sincere opinion that the City of New York has done nothing to facilitate any cancer study and has been actively working to prevent a comprehensive examination of the issue,” said PBA research director Frank Tramontano.
The fight has reached a fever pitch, with City Council members and union officials accusing the administration of withholding vital data to protect the city from liability.
“It’s time to stop the obstruction and provide the data the Police Department has already collected so that [the federal government] doesn’t have to operate in the dark,” said PBA President Pat Lynch.
“How many more have to die before the city releases these data?”
Mayor Bloomberg’s spokeswoman Samantha Levine said, “Not only was the city a staunch advocate for passing the federal Zadroga Act, we published the first-ever study on 9/11 and cancer, and we have a second on its way. Our commitment to the health of first responders is demonstrated beyond question.”