Friday, November 02, 2007

Zadroga Case Updates

I wrote a week or so back about the strange case of James Zadroga, a 34-year-old police detective who died from lung ailments, and the fact that NYC's medical examiner declined to certify that he died from a Ground Zero-related cause. The medical examiner has now revealed what he believes the cause of death to have been:

A city detective who became sick after working hundreds of hours at Ground Zero got the lung disease that killed him by injecting ground-up prescription drugs, the city medical examiner said Thursday.

But Detective James Zadroga's father adamantly rejected the city's findings - and revealed that a third medical opinion backs up his belief that his son died from toxic dust he inhaled at the World Trade Center site.

"Jimmy never abused drugs," Joseph Zadroga said. "I dispute that. The medical examiner did not report any track marks on his arms or body."

But the ME counters with some pretty convincing evidence:

Borakove said Hirsch found cellulose and talc granulomas, insoluble compounds used as binders in prescription drugs, in Zadroga's blood vessels.

"The only way you are going to see that is by injecting," she said. "Because they're not soluble, the material will stay there."

Mayor Bloomberg, who had initially distanced himself from the medical examiners findings, embraced them with just a tad too much zeal:

"Our chief medical examiner believes that the deceased was using some of his drugs in a manner for recreational drugs...Nobody wanted to hear that. We wanted to have a hero. There are plenty of heroes. It's just in this case, the science says this was not a hero."

Well, it's not how you die that determines whether you're a hero, it's how you live. By all accounts Zadroga performed heroically on the pile; that's not in question.

I want Zadroga's case resolved correctly. I will admit, I'd love for the ME to be correct; not because it harms the Zadrogas or because it debunks the air quality claims, but because it would indicate that Zadroga is not the canary in the coal mine, and that we are not going to see a lot of pile workers dying young.

Update: Longtime SLC buddy TAM, who has expertise in the medical arena, checks in with this comment:

The ME is correct. Those chemicals do not pass through the resp/capillary plexus, and do not pass into the blood stream via gut absorption...they are too big. They remain in the vessels, and can cause scarring of tissues that said blood stream feeds, through ischemia secondary to blocked vessels and the immune response and subsequent inflammation as a result of the bodies reaction to these minute foreign bodies.

It is essentially proof positive that he did inject crushed pills of some sort, or some substance that would contain these chemicals. What is not clear from what I see in the OP, is the evidence to conclude that use of these crushed drugs was the CAUSE of death. The article does not make it clear either. What you have is evidence of two potential causes for the disease process that killed him. The question is which of these two causes (the insoluble drug filler components versus the inhaled fibers from GZ) eventually lead to his death...a hard thing to determine IMO...

So where we're at is that the ME says that he has conclusive evidence that Zadroga injected drugs, and TAM confirms that if the evidence is legit (which nobody has a reasonable basis for doubting as yet), then injected drugs is indicated. But we still haven't seen the conclusive link between the injected drugs and death.

As I've said consistently on this blog, the one area that I think the "Truthers" might have a point on is the air quality. I hope they're wrong, but only for the sake of the workers.

Update II: Craig in the comments points out this further discussion in the article first linked above:

Looking for a third opinion, Zadroga's family turned to Dr. Michael Baden, the New York State Police chief forensic pathologist. Baden, who had previously reviewed the case, said he agreed with the New Jersey medical examiner, finding that Zadroga's lung damage was caused by inhaling Ground Zero poisons.

"He suffered inflammation of the lungs due to inhaling particulate matter while at the World Trade Center," Baden said.

Baden said Zadroga had a type of "black lung" disease typically seen in coal miners and caused by inhaling particulate matter.

Under a microscope, "You could see glass fibers there," Baden said. "You don't get that from injecting drugs."

The question of what killed James Zadroga is an open question, and one that requires an answer.

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