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New York: 9/11 toxins caused death

Story Highlights

• NYC officially links toxic dust from WTC collapse to 9/11 toll
• M.E. adds woman who died of lung disease to list of 9/11 deaths
• Lawyer Felicia Dunn-Jones, 42, died five months after terror attacks
• She was caught in dust cloud while fleeing towers
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A woman who died of lung disease five months after the September 11, 2001 attacks has been added to the medical examiner's list of attack victims.

The groundbreaking move on Wednesday marked the first time the city of New York has officially declared that exposure to World Trade Center toxins following the 9/11 attacks contributed to a person's death.

The death of U.S. Department of Education attorney Felicia Dunn-Jones, 42, five months after she became trapped in dust caused by the collapse of the first World Trade Center tower, is now being considered a homicide and her name has been added to the official list of World Trade Center victims.

The city said the September 11 death toll at the World Trade Center now stands at 2,750. Dunn-Jones will be listed on the September 11 memorial when it opens in 2009, a spokeswoman for the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation told The Associated Press.

The confirmation came in a letter by Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, the city's Chief Medical Examiner, to Dunn-Jones' family attorney, Richard H. Bennett on May 18.

"Accumulating evidence indicates that in some persons exposure to WTC dust has caused sarcoidosis or an inflammatory reaction indistinguishable from sarcoidosis," Hirsch stated in the letter.

"It is likely, with certainty beyond a reasonable doubt, that exposure to WTC dust...was contributory to (Dunn-Jones') death."

Dunn-Jones' estate had previously received a $2.6 million death benefit from a federal fund to compensate victims' families, AP reported.

Sarcoidosis is a rare and debilitating disease which causes lesions, most often appearing on the liver, lungs, skin, and lymph nodes.

"The City Medical Examiner has now accepted what thousands of people with 9/11-related illnesses and their doctors have long understood: that Ground Zero dust was harmful and even deadly," U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"This landmark decision should serve as springboard for the federal government to release a comprehensive plan to monitor and treat all those who are sick or injured as a result of 9/11," the Jones family's attorney, Richard Bennett added.

Before Wednesday's decision by New York, only a county in New Jersey had tied a death to exposure to World Trade Center dust.

A pathologist for Ocean County, New Jersey concluded in April 2006 that the death of retired NYPD detective, James Zadroga, 34, was directly linked to 9/11 recovery operations.

Zadroga, who was stricken with brain and respiratory aliments after spending close to 500 hours sifting through debris at the World Trade Center, died in January 2006.

Zadroga's father, Joseph Zadroga, said his son also suffered from sarcoidosis and that he and others should be added to the list of victims.

"I think that anybody that passes as a result of 9/11 should be listed on the wall," Zadroga told AP. "They're going to be adding to that wall for the next 20 years."

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

New York City's medical examiner now has linked toxic dust from the collapsing World Trade Center towers to 9/11 deaths.



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