Author: Cynthia Diaz Shephard/Wed, Sep 07, 2016/Categories: Blog
COPD—chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—is now an independent injury under the Zadroga Act. This means that COPD is covered independently and without any prior diagnosis or tie with any other respiratory illness when making a claim under the Act.
The Zadroga Act is comprised of both the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). The WTC Program provides treatment and monitoring, while the VCF provides compensation. Tens of thousands of people suffering from 9/11-related injuries are treated through the program and even more are monitored.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, responders and survivors were exposed to an array of dangerous substances, including asbestos, pulverized cement, and other toxins, chemicals, and carcinogens. Toxic exposure has been associated with a variety of significant, life-altering, life-threatening health conditions such as asthma, COPD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and scores of different types of cancer.
New-onset COPD previously became a covered injury under the Zadroga Act. At that time, according to the September 11th Families Association, only pre-September 11th COPD cases that had worsened due to the attacks were covered. Meanwhile, a growing number of recovery workers and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been dealing with attack-related COPD for years. Now, COPD is covered without prior diagnosis or association with another respiratory illness under the Zadroga Act.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Activity describes COPD as a progressively worsening lung disease that makes breathing difficult, even when attempting activities of daily living. COPD, which has no cure, may cause coughing with excess mucus, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing, among other serious symptoms. In the United States, COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis and is known under the names chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive airway disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, and emphysema.
When diagnosed with COPD, individuals experience reduced oxygen flow in and out of the lungs’ airways because the airways and sacs lose their elasticity (emphysema), the walls between the air sacs are destroyed (emphysema), the airway walls thicken or become inflamed (chronic bronchitis), and/or, the airways make excessive mucus, potentially causing clogs (chronic bronchitis) that adversely affect breathing.
COPD is a major cause of disability and is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Millions are diagnosed with COPD and many more may be unaware that they have COPD because of how slowly the disease develops.