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Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome in 9/11 Responders and Survivors

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After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many responders and survivors who inhaled the toxins in the dust cloud that covered lower Manhattan were diagnosed with severe respiratory diseases and aerodigestive disorders. One of the most common conditions they developed was reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS). This serious condition affects the airways of countless 9/11 responders and survivors. Importantly, it is not only treated and certified by the WTC Health Program, but it is also recognized by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund as eligible for compensation.  

Symptoms of Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome

Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome refers to a condition similar to asthma that can occur after exposure to an irritant, such as the chemicals and fumes in the 9/11 dust cloud. But the condition isn’t an allergic reaction to the irritant. For many 9/11 responders and survivors, it is a long-term condition that can significantly impact their quality of life.

Symptoms in most responders presented within a day after exposure. However, some cases lasted for more than six months—these are considered chronic. Typically, RADS presents with symptoms consistent with upper airway inflammation and bronchial hyperreactivity.  

RADS symptoms commonly include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling in the throat
  • Burning sensation in the nose and throat
  • Rapid heart rate

RADS is often diagnosed through chest X-rays, breathing tests, and blood tests. Specifically, a doctor may also order a test to determine the oxygen level in the blood. Medications prescribed to treat the condition are often the same as those used for asthma. They can include quick-relief medicine to be used when symptoms start or long-term control medication that helps relax the muscles around the airways. If the symptoms are severe, a doctor may recommend inhaled corticosteroids to reduce swelling and inflammation in the airways.

VCF Compensation for 9/11 Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome

If you’re a 9/11 responder or survivor who was diagnosed with RADS, you may be eligible to receive a monetary award from the VCF. The VCF issues compensation for the economic and non-economic losses you suffered in connection with a 9/11-related health condition, including RADS and other conditions obstructing the airways.

The economic damages portion of a VCF award compensates a responder or survivor for their lost earnings, loss of benefits, out-of-pocket expenses, and other financial losses incurred in connection with a 9/11 illness. The non-economic loss award is meant to compensate for the pain and suffering and impacted quality of life a responder or survivor experienced due to their health condition. Under the Zadroga Act, the maximum non-economic loss award awarded for a non-cancer is $90,000. However, the amount awarded can vary based on the severity of the condition.

Since obstructive airways diseases such as RADS are prevalent among 9/11 responders and survivors, the VCF deems certain medications and procedures used to treat them as presumptively compensable expenses. This means that the VCF does not require further proof of the relationship between the condition and the need for the treatment when filing an amendment for medical expense reimbursement.

Contact a New York City 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Attorney

If you were diagnosed with reactive airways dysfunction syndrome as a result of your exposure to the toxins in the 9/11 dust cloud, you might be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Since registering with the VCF and filing a claim for compensation can be confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming, it’s best to have a 9/11 VCF attorney by your side to guide you through the process.

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund attorneys at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. have represented claimants and their families in 9/11 VCF claims for more than a decade. For a free consultation, contact us today.

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