In Medical Research, News

As discussed in our earlier blog post, a January 2016 study by Dr. Marc Wilkenfeld of Winthrop University Hospital found that individuals exposed to WTC dust, or 9/11 toxins, are fifteen times more likely to suffer from peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) than the general population.

Despite the findings of the Winthrop University study, the World Trade Center Health Program declined to add peripheral neuropathy to its list of conditions eligible for treatment. An FDNY member petitioned the WTC Health Program Administrator, Dr. John Howard, to recognize peripheral neuropathy as a condition caused by exposure to WTC dust, or 9/11 toxins. The petition relied, in part, on the Winthrop University study.

Now, Dr. Wilkenfeld, along with other researchers, published a follow-up study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which found that 56% of patients exposed to WTC dust, or 9/11 toxins, suffer from peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage). The researchers found no independent cause of peripheral neuropathy other than the fact all subjects had been exposed to WTC dust or 9/11 toxins.

Dr. Wilkenfeld commented on the study: “The health of 9/11 responders is an ongoing story. That toxic brew had effects on all aspects of health. Part of this is getting people the care they deserve and the other part of it is the science.”

Dr. Jacqueline Moline, Director of the Queens World Trade Center Health Program clinic at Northwell Health commented that she has observed peripheral neuropathy in her patients as well. Dr. Moline further commented: “There were 150 different compounds and we don’t know how they interacted. I think we have to be open-minded about what might have happened in the aftermath.”

In declining the January petition for coverage of peripheral neuropathy, WTC Health Program Administrator Dr. Howard noted that the first Wilkenfeld study relied on a small sample size of 225 people. Dr. Wilkenfeld’s most recent study has a sample size of only 16 people. Therefore, it is difficult to tell whether the new study will help future petitions to add peripheral neuropathy to the WTC Health Program’s list of covered conditions.

Individuals suffering from the following physical health conditions may be eligible for free medical treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program and financial compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. In general, anyone who was present in Lower Manhattan below Canal Street, at the Fresh Kills landfill, on barges/trucks/piers along debris removal routes, the NYC Morgue, or at garages where emergency vehicles were cleaned between the dates of 9/11/01 and 5/30/02 may be eligible for free medical monitoring through the World Trade Center Health Program. Individuals who contracted one of the following covered illnesses listed on the WTC Health Program List of Covered Conditions may also be eligible for free treatment and medication, in addition to compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

The WTC Health Program List of Covered Conditions is subject to change as the Health Program Administrator, Dr. John Howard, and the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee continue to review research, statistics, and studies in order to identify new conditions for coverage.

For more information on the WTC Health Program List of Covered Conditions and 9/11 Victim Compensation, please contact Pitta & Baione LLP at 844-WTC-COMP or info@pittabaione.com.

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