By SUSAN EDELMAN
April 22, 2007 — Twenty-six firefighters who toiled at Ground Zero came down with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory illness that often attacks the lungs, in the five years after 9/11 – a significant increase, a new study has found.
The study has angered the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which complains that the NYPD has refused to acknowledge that 9/11 caused sarcoidosis in cops.
Half the firefighter cases were diagnosed in the first year after 9/11 – a rate six times higher than the average for the Bravest in the 15 years before 9/11, according to a paper to be published in CHEST, a medical journal.
The results “strongly argue for improved respiratory protection” at future fires, disasters and toxic sites, says the report, whose authors include FDNY top doctors David Prezant and Kerry Kelly.
The PBA, which has its own registry of ailing WTC responders, counts 19 cops with sarcoidosis.
Unlike the FDNY, the NYPD has been reluctant to link the disease to 9/11.
The NYPD has also rejected some cops’ medical bills for sarcoidosis.
“First they denied any connection between the WTC and sarcoidosis. Now that there’s scientific evidence, they refuse to accept it,” PBA president Patrick Lynch told The Post.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Commissioner Ray Kelly welcomed line-of-duty death benefits recently given the daughter of detective James Zadroga, 34, a 9/11 responder who died of respiratory illness.
“The department hasn’t refused to acknowledge a link. The medical division is reviewing the cases,” Browne said.
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