NEW YORK — First responders and residents who were stricken with cancer after being exposed to the toxic ash that exploded over Manhattan when the World Trade Center collapsed would qualify for free treatment of the disease and potentially hefty compensation payments under a rule proposed Friday by federal health officials.
After months of study, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said in an administrative filing that it favored a major expansion of an existing $4.3 billion Sept. 11 health program to include people with 50 types of cancer, covering 14 broad categories of the disease.
People with any of the cancers on the list could qualify for treatments and payments as long as they and their doctors make a plausible case that the disease was connected to the caustic dust.
The decision followed years of emotional lobbying by many people who fell ill in the decade after the terror attack.
The decision on whether to add cancer to the list is a difficult one, and there are still substantial questions about how the program will function.
There is still little scientific evidence of elevated cancer rates connected to dust or other toxins at the ground zero recovery site.