More asthma attacks for 9/11 responders

November 12, 2009 by  
Filed under ASTHMA

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firefighter_3As already posted here before, the 2001World Trade Center (WTC) terrorist attacks had long term health effects. One of the major health effects is asthma, a respiratory problem quite frequently observed among the early 9/11 responders, e.g. firemen, policemen, emergency services personnel, and clean up personnel.

According to a study by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, WTC responders are 2.3 times more likely to have asthma after the 2001 attack compared to non-responders. The incidence of asthma in the general population is 4%; among the responders, it is as high as 8%. The culprits that cause this increase in respiratory problems are the dust, smoke, and toxic particles released during the collapse of the twin towers.

According to study author Hyun Kim, ScD, Instructor of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine

“Although previous WTC studies have shown significant respiratory problems, this is the first study to directly quantify the magnitude of asthma among WTC responders. Eight years after 9/11 the WTC Program is still observing responders affected by asthma episodes and attacks at rates more than twice that of people not exposed to WTC dust.”

The researchers looked at medical records of 20,843 WTC responders. Data analysis revealed the following:

  • 86% of rescue and recovery workers were men.
  • Average exposure (e.g. duration of work at ground zero) is 80 days
  • Among the responders, less than 1% incidence of asthma attacks was reported in 2000; 8% was reported in the years 2005 to 2007.

The 9/11 responders are continuously followed up for further health problems under the WTC Program, supported by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The programs offers those eligible free medical check ups, and targeted treatments for health conditions that may be related to exposure during WTC work.

According to Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, President of the American College of Chest Physicians:

“Asthma and other chronic lung conditions remain a significant burden for rescue and recovery workers responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center. The significant chronic health problems associated with the WTC attacks only reinforces the need for stronger disaster preparedness plans as well as long-term medical follow-up for 9/11 responders and individuals who respond to disaster-related events.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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