2007_10_zadroga.jpgOne of the most heartbreaking stories after the September 11 attacks was that of James Zadroga, a NYC police detective. Zadroga had worked rescue and recovery in the debris of the World Trade Center and developed a respiratory disease. Now, over a year after his death, the city's medical examiner has ruled that his death was not caused by toxic WTC dust.

Medical examiner Dr. Charles Hirsch wrote a letter to Zadroga's parents (who are raising their son's young daughter - their daughter-in-law died during their son's sickness), saying, "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."

An Ocean County, NJ medical examiner had ruled earlier that Zadroga's death was caused by WTC dust, but apparently that ME didn't compare particles found in Zadroga's lungs with "actual dust from the trade center" (NY Times). Zadroga's parents were encouraged to submit their son's records to NYC and get him listed as a victim of September 11. The late detective's father Joseph called the letter callous and told the Post, "We were always leery to send anything to New York because this is exactly what we thought they would say." He adds that he is supposed to meet with the ME's office today. Update: Earlier this year, the ME's office did declare a Staten Island woman who developed respiratory problems after being covered with WTC dust on September 11 and later died a victim of the attacks (thanks, Blueaways).

Zadroga died in early 2006, leaving his motherless young daughter (his wife of heart issues while he was sick) behind. The plight of Zadroga, as well as others who developed health problems from WTC dust, was highlighted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorials by the Daily News. And recently, the city launched a website to address 9/11-related health issues.