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Lawsuits link Sept. 11 toxins with illnesses

/ Source: The Associated Press

The number of lawsuits filed against the city by firefighters and police officers claiming that World Trade Center wreckage made them sick has exceeded 1,700, according to a newspaper report.

Sicknesses named in the lawsuits include cancer, asthma, airway disorders and other lung maladies, according to medical records reviewed by The Daily News for a story in Monday editions.

Detective John Walcott, 39, claims his case of acute myelogenous leukemia was linked to contaminated air he breathed while working with World Trade Center debris at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where the wreckage was carted followign the disaster, the News reported.

Another police officer, Richard Lahm, 49, won a ruling in Manhattan Supreme Court last month that his terminal tonsil cancer had been “exacerbated” by toxins from ground zero. The city was ordered to pay him a disability pension.

More than 300 firefighters had retired since Sept. 11, 2001 because of sicknesses and injuries related to the attacks, Fire Department spokesman Francis Gribbon told the News.

Eli Kleinman, supervising chief surgeon for the police department, said there had not been a rise in cancer cases among police officers since Sept. 11, 2001, but that the department was “very concerned” about the possibility of a spike in the future.