NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York police detective died of lung disease caused by injecting ground-up pills not exposure to toxic air from working in the rubble of the World Trade Center after the September 11 attacks, the city’s medical examiner said on Thursday.
James Zadroga died in January 2006 at the age of 34. His family and police union believed his death was linked to the hundreds of hours he had spent working at Ground Zero after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
While a New Jersey pathologist linked Zadroga’s death to inhaling Ground Zero dust, according to a New York Times report, the New York City chief medical examiner found the cause was drugs injected into his blood.
“The lung disease is not due to anything that was inhaled it was because of what was put through his blood stream,”
Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the chief medical examiner, said on Thursday. “He ground up drugs and injected them.”
“Talc and cellulose were found. Those two are used as binders when the companies make prescription drugs,” she said.
Those insoluble ingredients of the drugs helped cause the lung disease that killed Zadroga.
Residents, paramedics and union members are demanding hundreds of millions of dollars to help workers with chronic illnesses that they attribute to Ground Zero dust exposure.
About 40,000 rescue workers were exposed to toxic dust that was as caustic as drain cleaner, according to a doctor involved with a study by the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, which was released last year.
Nearly 70 percent of 9,500 workers surveyed have suffered new or worsened respiratory problems after working at the trade center site, the study found. In some cases, the symptoms lingered for years.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was committed to ensuring “that all who were affected by 9/11 get the health care they need.”