Updated: 05-24-2004 02:12:53 PM

New York Firefighters And Police Claim Link Between Ground Zero Toxins, Illnesses

NEW YORK (AP) -- Some 1,700 firefighters and police officers have filed lawsuits against the city, claiming they were sickened by toxins from the World Trade Center wreckage, according to a published report.

Sicknesses named in the lawsuits include cancer, asthma, airway disorders and other lung maladies, according to a review of medical records published Monday in The Daily News.

Detective John Walcott, 39, filed a suit claiming 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, 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.