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NYC opens free clinics for 9/11 illnesses

NEW YORK - Two free New York City health clinics devoted to the treatment of thousands of individuals made ill by toxic materials dispersed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center opened yesterday.

Clinics in Chinatown and in Elmhurst, Queens, join one already in Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital to aid first responders, office workers, and residents of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn with respiratory, gastrointestinal, and psychological ailments caused by the attack and its aftermath.

The clinics are part of a 15-point plan that Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in February to address health problems experienced by more than 3,000 firefighters, at least 4,000 rescue and recovery workers, and thousands more who lived and worked in areas where airborne toxic dust and smoke settled.

"There are thousands of residents, commercial workers, and others who have reported experiencing acute breathing problems, worsening asthma, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental illnesses which require sustained treatment," Bloomberg told a US Senate health committee in March, when he asked for $150 million to help fund the clinics.

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