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9/11 responders fight fatal illnesses

Friday, Sep 09, 2011 - 02:54

Sept. 9 - Many 9/11 responders are suffering from diseases caused by toxins that they were exposed to Ground Zero. Even though a 9/11 health care bill has been passed, responders are concerned about diseases not covered by the bill. Tara Cleary reports.

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Struggling to breathe Ken George recalls his experiences in the World Trade Center ruins. George was a 9/11 recovery worker and spent 700 hours in the dust and debris with fellow responders. Now his constant companion is an oxygen tank. SOUNDBITE: Ken George, a 9/11 rescue and recovery worker who is suffering from a host of illnesses, including respiratory and heart disease, saying (English): "Every morning I wake up I got to take 33 pills within the course of the day. At 47-years-old I have lungs of an 80-year-old man that would have been a smoker. People say you have to forget about 9/11 and I say -- how could I forget about 9/11 when every morning I got to take this medication and walk around with an Oxygen tank." Shortly after he began working at Ground Zero, George developed a 9/11 cough - - a term now used to describe the nagging cough that has plagued many 9/11 responders. And George is not alone -- almost 16,000 September 11 responders were treated by the World Trade Center Health Program in the past year. In 2010, the U.S. government passed the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act. The $4.3 billion U.S. dollar bill sets aside $1.5 billion dollars to monitor the health of rescue and recovery crews. One of the champions of that bill was John Feal. Feal was a recovery worker at the World Trade Center until he lost part of his foot when a steel beam landed on it. When he struggled to receive financial compensation, the demolition expert founded the Feal Good Foundation, which spreads awareness about the health effects of 9/11. Despite the successful passing of the bill, Feal is disappointed. And his frustration is centered on the exclusion of cancer from the act. SOUNDBITE: John Feal, founder of the Feal Good Foundations, saying (English): "The benzenes, the mercury, the lead, the beryllium, the jet fuel, you're going to tell me all of these which are cancer causing toxins, over thousand toxins in the air that day and in those following days and weeks, didn't cause these cancers. Come on, I mean we're sick and dying but we're not stupid." For George, his enduring hope is for his family. SOUNDBITE: Ken George, a 9/11 rescue and recovery worker who is suffering from a host of illnesses, including respiratory and heart disease, saying (English): "I did the best I could for everybody else so now I'm hoping that the government will take care of my family when I die, cause like I said forty-seven years old with heart and lung disease, I ain't got long to go." More than 50,000 people are estimated to have participated in recovery work following the September 11 attacks. Tara Cleary, Reuters.

9/11 responders fight fatal illnesses

Friday, Sep 09, 2011 - 02:54

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