Researchers Ponder 9/11 Health Impact a Decade Later

The disaster may have had lasting, multiple effects on those exposed

FRIDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- It may be too early to tell how much of an impact the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster and its immediate aftermath had on those exposed, but cancer, death, mental and physical disorders, and spirometric abnormalities appear higher in people who received greater levels of exposure, according to three studies published in the 9/11-themed Sept. 3 issue of The Lancet.

Rachel Zeig-Owens, M.P.H., of the Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y., and colleagues estimated and compared cancer rates in WTC-exposed and non-exposed firefighters to investigate the association between exposure to ground zero carcinogens and cancer. They found a modest excess of cancer in WTC-exposed firefighters, but remained cautious of their findings due to duration of the study and other limitations. Hannah T. Jordan, M.D., of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues examined mortality in rescue workers and non-rescue workers exposed to the WTC disaster to determine whether exposure increased death rates in these populations. They found overall mortality in WTC Health Registry participants no higher than expected compared with the general population of New York City, but that mortality was higher with greater WTC-related exposure.

Juan P. Wisnivesky, M.D., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues studied data from 27,449 WTC rescue and recovery workers to estimate the prevalence of physical and mental disorders and spirometric abnormalities. They found the nine-year cumulative incidence of asthma, sinusitis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease to be 27.6, 42.3, and 39.3 percent, respectively; cumulative incidence of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorders to be 27.5, 31.9, and 21.2 percent, respectively, in non-police officers; and the cumulative incidence for spirometric abnormalities to be 41.8 percent.

"Nine years after the 9/11 WTC attacks, rescue and recovery workers continue to have a substantial burden of physical and mental health problems. These findings emphasize the need for continued monitoring and treatment of the WTC rescue and recovery population," Wisnivesky and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Zeig-Owens
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Abstract - Jordan
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Abstract - Wisnivesky
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