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Urge Independent Standards for Adding Names to 9/11 Victims

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 7:07 pm    Post subject: Urge Independent Standards for Adding Names to 9/11 Victims
From Wed Nov 07, 2007 3:00 am to Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:59 am (included)
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For Immediate Release: November 7, 2007

Contact: Joe Soldevere (Maloney), 212-860-0606
Shin Inouye (Nadler), 202-225-5635
Craig Donner (Fossella), 718-356-8400

Reps. Maloney, Nadler and Fossella

Urge Independent Standards

for Adding Names to 9/11 Victims List

New York, NY Following Mayor Bloombergs meeting Monday with the family of the late NYPD Detective James Zadroga, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Vito Fossella (R-NY) wrote to the Mayor and urged him to empower a panel of independent public health experts to help the city put in place clear standards and procedures to determine whether deaths should be linked to 9/11. The full text of the Representatives letter can be found below.

The history of 9/11 should not be decided behind closed doors by one person, Rep. Maloney said. Advice from independent medical experts would bring standards and transparency to the sad task of adding new names to the official list of 9/11 victims. I am grateful to Mayor Bloomberg for meeting with the Zadroga family and I urge him to consider our suggestions.

It is not right for one person to determine, in secret, who should be added to the official list of the victims of 9/11, said Rep. Nadler. An independent body of medical and scientific experts could help implement a transparent process to determine whether or not a death was 9/11 related.

We need a transparent policy that applies a consistent standard to all cases over the course of decades. The Zadroga case proves that medical experts can review the same evidence and arrive at different conclusions, said Rep. Fossella.

Last month, New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Hirsch found that Detective Zadroga, who worked for weeks in rescue and recovery operations at Ground Zero, died as a result of the misuse of prescription medication, not exposure to toxins at the former World Trade Center site. Detective Zadrogas family met with Mayor Bloomberg on Monday to discuss Dr. Hirschs findings, with which they strongly disagree. Following the meeting, Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler said the Mayors office would forward Detective Zadrogas full medical records to Dr. Hirsch for possible reconsideration of the case.

Detective Zadrogas illness has been directly linked to 9/11 by many distinguished experts, including the numerous doctors who treated him, former New York City Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Baden, the Ocean County Medical Examiner, the New York City Police Medical and Pension Boards, and the Special Master of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.


November 7, 2007

The Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg
Mayor of the City of New York
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

We thank you for meeting with family of the late Detective James Zadroga, and for your commitment to try to find a way to properly honor 9/11 responders and others who became ill and died as a result of their exposure to toxins at ground zero. We are also encouraged by reports that you will forward Detective Zadrogas full medical records to the Citys Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Charles Hirsch. It is our understanding that Dr. Hirsch did not consider some of this vital evidence when he made his decision on the Zadroga case last month.

The Zadroga case and others like it underscore the need for a fully transparent procedure to evaluate whether deaths can be linked to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. At present, the entire process rests in Dr. Hirschs hands. Though possible 9/11 victims hail from cities and towns throughout our area, Dr. Hirsch alone is responsible for making cause-of-death determinations and updating the historical record of 9/11 victims.

While we appreciate Dr. Hirschs service and respect his credentials, we believe that the families of possible 9/11 victims as well as the city itself would be better served by a fully transparent process derived from independent experts in a variety of relevant public health disciplines. Such a process would have clear standards on what evidence should be considered in making determinations on past and future 9/11-related deaths. We would like to suggest that you consider enlisting an independent body of experts to help the city establish these standards and procedures.

Mr. Mayor, we believe that you were right when you said recently that determinations about 9/11-related deaths will unfortunately have to be made for decades to come. It is for precisely this reason that an independent body of experts, rather than one person in one office, should set the standards for making such decisions. Additionally, decisions like these are likely to be as emotional as they are public. At a time when the City is in litigation filed by those exposed to ground zero toxins, procedures and standards derived by an independent panel would remove even the appearance of a conflict of interest in 9/11-related cause of death determinations.

Dr. John Howard, the federal governments 9/11 Health Coordinator, has said in correspondence to our offices that:

Cause of death determinations for WTC-related conditions will be a matter of some sophistication as there is quite a bit of scientific uncertainty with regard to the association of WTC exposures and any particular condition. Linking particular occupational exposures to specific causes of death is a complex task both on the individual level and on a population-based level. Until the current scientific uncertainty surrounding WTC deaths is resolved, cause of death determinations for WTC deaths belong properly to specialists in pathology, epidemiology and other disciplines at academic medical centers.

We agree with Dr. Howards assessment. Accordingly, we respectfully urge you to empower an independent panel of experts in pathology, epidemiology, and other public health disciplines at academic medical centers to review scientific evidence on 9/11-related health conditions and use that evidence to set up a transparent process with clear standards not only to evaluate whether deaths can be linked to 9/11, but whether new names should be added to the Citys official list of 9/11 victims, as well.

Once again, we appreciate Dr. Hirschs service, and we thank you for considering our request. We would be delighted to meet with you to discuss this matter in further detail. To set up such a meeting, or if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Vito Fossella
Members of Congress
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