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SCOTT JAGOW: We all remember the heroes of 9/11, the police and firefighters and medics who rushed to the World Trade Center to help people. Well, those workers are paying a price for their heroism. A new study says 70 percent of 9/11 recovery workers have lung problems. But New York City is pledging $21 million over the next five years to help them. Ashley Milne-Tyte has more.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Thousands of Ground Zero recovery workers got sick as a result of working in the dust and smoke from the smoldering buildings. More continue to come forward with lung problems that are showing up years later.

Doug Muzzio teaches public affairs at New York City's Baruch College. He says the city's move is significant, though not so much in dollar terms.

DOUG MUZZIO: "It is the policy recognition of the city's, in a sense, culpability and obligation to these folks."

He says until now the Mayor has cast a wary eye on people seeking 9/11-related health benefits.

MUZZIO:"I think the Mayor was looking at this as CEO and not as political leader. He's phrased his opposition to payouts in budgetary terms."

The money Bloomberg pledged will mostly fund a new health center to open in January. It'll treat any one who lived or worked near Ground Zero, including the uninsured and illegal immigrants.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.