Union officials representing police officers are demanding that the city release data on the cancer rate among police officers who worked at Ground Zero immediately following the September 11 attacks. They argue the data is necessary in order to get cancer added to the list of diseases covered by the federal Zadroga Act.
"We have young men and women who are dying from cancer, that shouldn't be, at young ages," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, who was joined by sick police officers at a press conference on Sunday. "It's unconscionable that they wouldn't release this data."
Currently, only certain digestive, muscular and respiratory conditions are on the Zadroga eligibility list.
Lynch suggested the city had not been forthcoming with the data due to liability issues, but last week Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was "trying to work something out."
"There are privacy issues, both in state law and city law," Bloomberg said. "I do think that we will find a ways to give out that information."
However, state legislators who joined Lynch said they will introduce legislation in Albany that would require the Bloomberg administration to share the information, if it doesn't do so willingly.
The push from police officers comes in advance of a meeting this week of the World Trade Center Scientific And Technical Advisory Committee. The panel will investigate whether cancer patients should receive treatment and monetary compensation from the federal government.
The panel is set to present its findings in March, after which the director of the National Institute of Safety and Health will have the final say on whether the eligibility list should be modified to include cancer.
(Photo: Officer Alonzo Harris's contaminated uniform, sealed in plastic. Arun Venugopal/WNYC)