Friday, October 19, 2007

Zadroga Case Raises Eyebrows

I'll admit it; on it's face this looks more like New York City politics than medical reasoning.

James Zadroga, the 34-year-old retired police detective who died of respiratory failure after working hundreds of hours at the World Trade Center site, was often cited by those advocates as a "sentinel case" — the first health-related casualty linked to ground zero, suggesting there would be more to follow.

The city's medical examiner stunned that community this week in a letter declaring that Zadroga's death had nothing to do with the toxic air he breathed while working at ground zero.

"It is our unequivocal opinion, with certainty beyond doubt, that the foreign material in your son's lungs did not get there as the result of inhaling dust at the World Trade Center or elsewhere," said the letter to Zadroga's father. It was signed by Hirsch and another medical examiner, Michele Slone. The letter was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

I am reasonably sure they must have some evidence backing up that opinion; let's see it, and let's see if the family can get a medical expert who disputes that evidence. I am not going to say reflexively that the decision is wrong. It certainly deserves more explanation.

Update: Our buddy Hey Nonny in the comments points out that Zadroga died of black lung disease and mercury on the brain. Confirmation here.

This claim certainly makes me a little leery:

Detective James Zadroga was one of the first responders to the World Trade Center. He was inside 7 World Trade Center when it began to collapse.

That makes no sense to me at all.