After nine long years, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, also known as the “9/11 First Responders bill,” finally passed though Congress. The act is intended to provide medical services, including monitoring and care, for people who worked at Ground Zero, inadvertently exposing themselves to toxic dust that contained tons of asbestos, in addition to benzene and other chemicals characteristic of jet fuel. During the approval process, concessions were made that diluted the efficacy of the bill, but proponents hope it will result in early detection of mesothelioma, a deadly disease that can cake decades for symptoms to show. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but early detection greatly increases the treatment options.
First responders to the tragic event on 9/11 are already showing signs of persistent respiratory distress due to exposure. Some of them have already died as a result of their heroism.