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Health Concerns Prompt Call For ’9/11 Health Czar’

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Jan 25, 2006 11:59 pm US/Eastern

Marcia Kramer Reporting, WCBS-TV

Watch news video here:

(CBS) NEW YORK The Federal General Accounting Office estimates that between 250,000 and 400,000 people lived, worked or went to school, in the ground zero vicinity at the time of the world trade center attacks.

There were 40,000 to 50,000 rescue workers, firefighters, volunteer firefighters, EMS, police and construction workers who worked on the “pile” for some length of time…of 16,000 rescue workers, not firefighters participating in a Mount Sinai Hospital study about half are sick with World Trade Center related diseases. At least three emergency workers have died.

Today, there are strong calls for action from members of New York’s Congressional delegation.

Members of the New York congressional delegation say it’s a health crisis that can no longer be ignored. They’re calling for a federal coordinator, saying such an appointment is critical because of the sheer numbers who are sick or could get sick from the toxics they inhaled after the twin tower attacks.

“They were exposed to a cocktail of poisonous gases, toxins, pulverized cement and glass and these particles are still in the bodies still in their lungs,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (d-Manhattan).

Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Vito Fossella and other members of Congress have demanded that the Bush Administration appoint a 9-11 health czar to deal with the tragic after affects of the twin tower attack. Three responders have already died, including NYC Police Detective James Zadroga, 34, whose funeral was just weeks ago.

“The question we are asking today is who is next,” said Maloney.

Adds Rep. Vito Fossella: “They have respiratory problems some of them cant walk some have had to undergo 20 and 30 surgeries.”

The stories of some of the workers are heartbreaking.

EMS worker Bonnie Giebfried was buried twice as the buildings came down. Now Bonnie coughs and coughs.

EMS worker Marvin Bethea was with her

“I was taking two medicines before 9-11. This is what I take today,” he said pointing to 14 different bottles. “So how can you say that we’re not sick that we’re not hurt and now the government’s turning their backs on us its a disgrace.”

Adds Bonnie: “I’m watching my group slowly die like Marvin said we were given a slow death sentence.”

“It’s hard we did our jobs that day and the government let us down and the sad thing is, it’s going to happen again,” said Marvin.

David Keller’s dad, EMS worker Timothy Keller, 41, died of 9-11 related health problems

“I went around to numerous doctors with him and each of them just kept telling him the same thing this is from the trade center,” said David.

WCBSTV.com called the Federal Department of Health and Human Services to ask if its commissioner would heed New York’s plea for a 9-11 health czar. They did not call back.

((c) MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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