More than four years after hijackers rammed passenger jets into the twin towers, at least a dozen people who worked at Ground Zero have died of diseases attributed to the witch's brew of deadly chemicals and toxic substances that filled the air at the disaster site.Zadroga, whose wife had died of heart disease a year earlier, was a strong 6 feet 2 man, weighing more than 260 pounds before getting sick:
Thousands of other Ground Zero workers are suffering from serious respiratory ailments. The victims include police officers, firefighters, construction workers and even immigrant laborers. Some call these forgotten men and women the "walking dead."
James Zadroga became the first NYPD officer to die as a direct result of exposure to Ground Zero's cocktail of chemicals, said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association.
"I do not think he will be the last, unfortunately," Palladino said.
But the last four years offered a picture of a different man. Shortly after finishing his rescue and recovery work at the World Trade Center, Zadroga developed a chronic cough, shortness of breath and acid reflux. He was plagued by nightmares and headaches. Within months, he needed oxygen tanks, antibiotics and steroid injections on a regular basis.Zadroga wasn't just killed by his more than 450 hours working in the witches brew of toxic dusts resulting from the collapse of the World Trade Centers, he was also screwed by the NYPD:
While Zadroga was losing the battle with his lungs, he was also losing a fight with the city. In March 2002, James filed a line of injury report with the NYPD, documenting his labored breathing and persistent cough. The report proved worthless, his parents say.Zadroga wasn't to the first and he won't be the last to die in the aftermath of the Ground Zero recovery efforts:
Joseph Zadroga says the NYPD never acknowledged his son's condition until it was too late. James was often forced to report to work — over a two-hour drive from his suburban New Jersey home — when he couldn’t even walk up the stairs, his father says.
"He felt the loss not only from being sick but by the treatment of the police department," he said. "He felt abandoned."
"They’re just letting people die like dogs," said Joseph Zadroga. "They’re treating them like a number and letting them die."
Zadroga was one of many "walking dead." Estimates vary, but tens of thousands of workers and residents have reported some lingering effects from Ground Zero exposure. Of the roughly 70,000 people currently enrolled in Mount Sinai's World Trade Center health study, more than 60,000 suffer some kind of respiratory problem.A federal judge found that former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christie Todd Whitman deliberately mislead the public when she reassured the public after the collapse of the World Trade Centers that the air was safe to breathe in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Dr. David Prezant, co-director of the New York Fire Department's World Trade Center medical program, conducted a lung function study of 13,000 firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. He said that after Sept. 11, the average breathing capacity of the people tested dropped more than 11 times the normal aging process.
Heck of a job, Christie.
Hat tip to Susie at Suburban Guerrilla for this.