9/11 responders twice as likely to have asthma: Study

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Washington, Nov 4 (ANI): Rescue workers exposed to dust and pollutants following the 2001 World Trade Center (WTC) terrorist attacks suffer from asthma at more than twice the rate of the general U.S. population, according to new data presented by Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers.

As many as eight percent of the workers and volunteers who engaged in rescue and recovery, essential service restoration, and clean-up efforts in the wake of 9/11 reported experiencing post-9/11 asthma attacks or episodes

The data showed that eight per cent of rescue workers and recovery volunteers experienced post-9-11 asthma attacks, which are typically seen in only 4 per cent of the general population.

"Although previous WTC studies have shown significant respiratory problems, this is the first study to directly quantify the magnitude of asthma among WTC responders," said Hyun Kim, ScD, Instructor of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM) and lead author of the analysis.

"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," Kim added.

Researchers examined the medical records of 20,843 WTC responders who received medical screenings from July 2002 to December 2007 as part of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine-coordinated WTC Program.

Results were compared with the U.S. National Health Survey Interviews adult sample data for the years 2000 and 2002 to 2007.

In the general population, the prevalence of asthma episodes and/or attacks in the previous 12 months remained relatively constant at slightly less than four percent from 2000 to 2007.

On the other hand, among WTC responders, while fewer than one percent reported asthma episodes occurring during the year 2000, eight percent reported asthma episodes in the years 2005 to 2007.

In an age-adjusted ratio, WTC responders were 2.3 times more likely to report asthma episodes/attacks that had occurred during the previous 12 months when compared to the general population of the United States.

Of the study's rescue and recovery workers, 86 percent were men and the average duration of work at WTC sites was 80 days.

The data has been presented at CHEST 2009, the 75th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), in San Diego. (ANI)

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