US health officials have announced that certain cancers will be covered by a $4.3bn (£2.75bn) compensation fund for people suffering from illness after exposure to toxic materials in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The announcement by Dr John Howard, administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program, revealed that the fund would cover all 14 types of cancers as recommended by an advisory committee.
In a statement he said: “We recognize how personal the issue of cancer and all of the health conditions related to the World Trade Center tragedy are to 9/11 responders, survivors and their loved ones.”
It means that people who are suffering from illnesses related to the attacks, but were ineligible for compensation, will now be able to lodge claims.
The fund will also cover those affected by the attack on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Flight No. 93 crashed after passengers resisted the hijackers.
Members of the emergency services and construction workers were exposed to dangerous chemicals for months after the attacks as they spent time at the site of the World Trade Center.
Steve Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, said in a statement: “No group suffered greater exposure to the 9/11 toxins than New York City Firefighters.
“We toiled at the site for months on end, throughout the rescue and recovery efforts.”
“While this inclusion of cancers will not solve the health issues of those that are sick, it is a critically important decision towards protecting their families.”
Some of the cancers to be covered by the fund are those of the stomach, lung, kidney, trachea, liver, colon, rectum, bladder, thyroid and breast.
However, the officials managing the fund have run into problems determining who developed cancer as a result of exposure at the attack sites, and those who suffered from cancer for other reasons.