Autopsy: NYC cop's death connected to work at Ground Zero
Copyright 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC
All Rights Reserved
Editor's Note: This is just the tip of the iceberg. EMS providers are also deeply affected. The buildings were known asbestos traps, and almost all material was pulverized into particulate matter during the collapse. In addition, despite the availability of monitoring equipment positioned around Ground Zero, EMS, fire and police personnel were permitted to work on site without appropriate respirators. — A.J. Heightman, Editor-in-Chief
By ELIZABETH SOLOMONT
The New York Sun
According to an autopsy report, the death of a police detective who suffered from severe respiratory disease after logging nearly 500 hours at the World Trade Center site was deemed a direct result of working at ground zero after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
The family of James Zadroga, 34, who died January 5, and the Detectives Endowment Association yesterday shared the report, which it said is the first to specifically link the death of an emergency worker to airborne toxins at the World Trade Center site.
"The most striking feature consists of the presence of innumerable foreign body granules that are distributed throughout the lung tissue," a forensic pathologist at the Ocean County Medical Examiner's office, Gerard Breton, wrote in the autopsy report."It is felt with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the cause of death in this case was directly related to the 9/11 incident."
Presenting the autopsy results yesterday, the president of the Detectives Endowment Association, Michael Palladino, said he wants Zadroga's death reclassified as having happened in the line of duty not only to honor his heroic service, but also to provide full pension benefits to his 4-year-old daughter, Tylerann. He was joined by Zadroga's parents and daughter, as well as five other officers who are suffering from respiratory illnesses and other maladies, some of them terminal.
Emergency responders — including police officers, firefighters, and EMTs — are increasingly reporting illness they say are linked to the rescue work they performed, according to press reports. A class action lawsuit filed by ground zero workers alleges that at least 24 deaths are related to exposure to air in Lower Manhattan, which the Environmental Protection Agency initially deemed safe to breathe.
"We were misled by the EPA," Mr. Palladino said. He stressed the importance of making changes to responders' pension plans &mdsah; not only to benefit Zadroga, but also to help others who are currently ill due to work done at the World Trade Center site.
Zadroga's father, Joseph, said nothing can be done about his son's death at this point, but that officials should support the officers that are still alive.