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Wednesday, May 8, 2002, 12:00 p.m. EDT
HHS Also To Award More Than $2 Million For Services To Sept. 11 Rescue Workers
HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced 12 grants worth $10.5 million to fund research and training to address health concerns in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
In addition, Secretary Thompson announced the availability of more than $2 million in special grants for mental health and substance abuse services for firefighters, police and other rescue workers who responded to the terrorist attacks. These funds will be awarded to as many as six applicants serving public safety workers in New York and others states affected by the Sept. 11 attacks.
"When the terrorists attacked, we turned to firefighters, police officers and other rescue workers to save lives and help America recover", Secretary Thompson said. "These grants will help fulfill our obligation to these brave men and women by supporting needed research, training and health services to protect their health and well-being."
"The New York City Fire Department is grateful for the continuing support from the federal government and the Department of Health and Human Services," said New York City Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. "The availability of funding for substance abuse and mental health services and hazardous materials training will ensure that the Fire Department is able to provide its members with the highest level of protective and preventive care in the aftermath of Sept. 11."
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is part of HHS' National Institutes of Health, is funding six training grants and six research grants to address immediate and long-term worker and community health protections arising from the World Trade Center attacks.
A total of $6 million will support education and training efforts, including training new and current hazardous material teams for the New York City Fire Department, environmental remediation workers, site cleanup workers and hazardous material teams on response to weapons of mass destruction. The awards are as follows:
- International Association of Firefighters, $3,205,597, to support additional hazardous materials technician and chemical protective clothing/decontamination training classes for the Fire Department of the City of New York.
- International Union of Operating Engineers, $1,451,047, to support the development of training programs to promote quick and appropriate response by skilled construction and support workers for sites affected by weapons of mass destruction and other disasters, including a training module concerning the distribution and fit testing of respiratory protection equipment at the World Trade Center site.
- The National Puerto Rican Forum, and their consortium members at the Alice Hamilton Occupational Health Center, Office of Applied Innovations and the Maine Labor Group on Health, $480,000, to train hazmat workers to respond to weapons of mass destruction, including the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators & Asbestos Workers, the American Federation of Government Employees and emergency response personnel in Kentucky, Maine and Washington, D.C.
- University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, $398,711, to: provide Transit Union Workers in lower Manhattan with 24-hour hazardous materials technician training; train New York District Council of Carpenters Labor Technical College members for World Trade Center site cleanup activities; and support the New Jersey State Police in training about 2,875 hazardous materials police and hospital workers to effectively respond to emergency situations regarding weapons of mass destruction.
- The Laborers-Associated General Contractors Education and Training Fund, $314,645, to train workers currently employed on the World Trade Center cleanup and subway reconstruction project and to train non-English speaking workers in New York City and New Jersey who are involved in anthrax remediation sites.
- The Center to Protect Workers Rights, $100,000, to continue the three-hour health and safety training targeting workers at the World Trade Center. The existing three-hour training will be continued for workers engaged in cleanup and construction activities over the next few months and will focus on awareness of existing and any new hazards associated with the site during construction activities.
In addition, a total of $4.5 million will support research organizations' efforts to conduct exposure assessment, epidemiology, and community outreach in the Lower Manhattan area. These awards are as follows:
- Mount Sinai School of Medicine, $1,309,990, to conduct a health study of 200 ironworkers dismantling the remains of the World Trade Center compared to ironworkers working elsewhere, and to analyze special images of the plumes of pollutants formed by the collision, collapse and burning at the World Trade Center to assess the exposures in the immediate area. The images were made during over-flights of the area using the NASA Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer.
- New York University with Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of Rochester, $1,240,139, to conduct a clinical study of respiratory symptoms in 300 New York City firefighters, plus a survey and follow-up of 6,000 residents, with community outreach including public forums.
- Johns Hopkins University, $601,294, to develop a registry of the estimated 3,000 to 4,000 workers involved in cleanup at the World Trade Center site, for study by questionnaire and function tests, and to conduct outreach to the workers.
- Columbia University, $432,480, to study pregnancy outcomes and subsequent child development in a sample of exposed women compared to other women, to analyze air and dust samples collected between October and January, and of soils and New York harbor and park lake sediments, and to compile data that will be accessible to the public.
- University of North Carolina, $302,943, to study a monitoring device for workers, and an assessment of filter samples gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency at ground zero in the weeks following the World Trade Center collapse.
- University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, $563,154, to assess surrounding communities' real and perceived risks, including possible increases in premature births and birth defects, post-traumatic stress, depression and panic.
"When we saw the bravery of rescue workers on television on Sept. 11 and thereafter, we rushed to get them the best safety equipment possible," NIEHS Director Kenneth Olden said. "We hope those efforts helped minimize future health problems, and now we are following up with studies of these heroes -- as well as with safety training for the future."
In addition, HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also will award as many as six grants to support services for public health workers in states that were directly impacted by the Sept. 11 attacks -- New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- and in nearby states -- Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The grants will total more than $2 million in the first year and could be extended up to three years.
"Trained to cope with fear and stress and to act effectively in emergencies, rescue workers are more familiar with danger and loss of life than many," SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie said. "However, our experience with the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing warns that these workers are also among the most vulnerable to long-term emotional and substance abuse problems. These grants will sustain our initial efforts to support the front line at home."
Eligible applicants for the SAMHSA grants include community-based mental health providers, nonprofit employee assistance programs, occupational health organizations, and voluntary organizations, including faith-based organizations, as well as states themselves, local governments, private nonprofit agencies, and Indian tribes and tribal organizations.
The deadline for receipt of applications for these grants is June 19, 2002. Interested parties can request an application kit for the Public Safety Workers Mental Health Program (SM 02-006) by calling 1-800-789-2647 or by visiting http://www.samhsa.gov.
About the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS): NIEHS supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health and is part of the National Institutes of Health. For more information on NIEHS or environmental health topics, visit www.niehs.nih.gov or subscribe to a news list.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
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