Los Angeles Firefighters File Workers’ Compensation Claims for Respiratory Problems Resulting from WTC Work
Over the past five months, 25 Los Angeles firefighters who worked at the site of the World Trade Center collapse have filed workers' compensation claims for respiratory problems, the Los Angeles Times reports. Not all of the 93 firefighters from Los Angeles who worked in New York have had problems, but many continue to experience "coughing, throat irritation and breathing difficulties." Capt. Edward Bushman, Los Angeles Fire Department medical liaison officer, said the problems were likely caused by inhaled particulate matter in the area at Ground Zero, including pulverized concrete and silica from glass, as well as smoke. Don Forrest, one of the firefighters with a lingering cough, said that a shortage of breathing equipment at the site meant that he and other firefighters "wore only dust masks" for protection. He also said that firefighters are still waiting for final reports on the toxicity of the air around the World Trade Center. According to the Times, the city will pay for the firefighters' treatment and plans to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 2/14).
Meanwhile, University of California-Davis researchers on Monday released results of a study that found "unprecedented levels of pollutants" were "kicked up over" Manhattan after the attacks. Studies of air samples have found "high levels" of sulfur, silicon, titanium, vanadium and nickel (AP/Sacramento Bee, 2/13). According to a Fresno Bee editorial, although the "preliminary" results have not been published and or peer reviewed, it was "right to release" the study. Noting that the "science of particulate air contamination and its risk to human health is controversial," the Bee says that the particulate matter levels in New York are significantly higher than ever anticipated, making area residents and site workers "unwitting guinea pigs." The editorial says that if the findings prove true, "every minute rescue workers spend sifting through the Twin Towers' ashes exposes them to unacceptable risk" (Fresno Bee, 2/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.