Breathing problems persist for 9/11 responders: study

Other News Materials 8 February 2009 01:30 (UTC +04:00)

Lung problems persist for nearly a quarter of people exposed to toxic dust after the terror attack on Sept. 11, 2001 in New York, a new study found.

About 40,000 people, including fire and rescue workers, were exposed to noxious pollution in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center, Xinhua reported.

Among them, an estimated 35,000 to 70,000 developed post- traumatic stress disorder, and 3,800 to 12,600 people developed asthma as a result, according to the study by researchers at the New York City Health Department.

Between 2004 and 2007, researchers gave breath tests to 3,160 9/ 11 workers and volunteers who had taken part in an earlier round of tests from 2002 to 2004, and about a quarter of those tested still have limited lung capacity and lung function, according to the study published in the February issue of the journal Chest.

The rate of problems is much higher than normal, about 2.5 times more than would be expected in people who smoke, said study co-author Dr. Jacqueline Moline.

The normal rate of lung capacity problems for a similar group of people would be 5 percent for non-smokers and 10 percent for smokers, said Moline.

"These tests confirm what we've seen clinically: People are sick, they're short of breath," Moline said. "They used to run miles a day, now they can barely run the length of a football field."

"These are problems we're seeing five or six or seven years after the towers fell," Moline said. "Many of these folks are going to have long-term problems, and their lung function won't return to normal."

She said that researchers may never know what component of the toxic brew of 9/11 dust and smoke hurt the lungs of those who responded to the emergency.