Fred Mogul, Reporter, WNYC News
Fred Mogul has been covering healthcare and medicine for WNYC since 2002.
The city Wednesday released information about 321 NYPD officers and civilian workers who reportedly developed cancer since working at Ground Zero in the days and months after September 11. The records are not public, but are going to Mt. Sinai Hospital, which has led much of the 9/11-related health research.
The police union and Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio have pushed for the medical records' release in order to show a possible link between cancer and exposure to World Trade Center dust.
They accused the NYPD and mayor’s office of dragging their feet, but City Hall said individual permissions and privacy protections needed to be secured first.
Last month, the city released the names and basic information of 39,921 people who worked at Ground Zero. The records released Wednesday are of people who say they have cancer. The information Mt. Sinai is receiving includes birth year, race, gender, retirement year, type of cancer and year of diagnosis — but does not include their names.
Privacy law prohibits the city from releasing personal medical information, even to a scientific research institution.
A spokesman for Mt. Sinai Hospital said records will be analyzed “after a very extensive verification process.”
It’s not clear whether researchers will publish anything separately on the NYPD cancer experience, or simply fold the data into ongoing analysis.
Mt. Sinai researchers have recently submitted a paper for publication that says cancer rates are about 14 percent higher among 20,000 Ground Zero emergency responders, construction workers and volunteers than the general population, and those results are currently being peer-reviewed.