9/11 first responders twice as likely to have asthma, researchers say


Researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that as many as 8 percent of the workers and volunteers who engaged in rescue and recovery, essential service restoration, and cleanup efforts reported experiencing post-9/11 asthma attacks or episodes.

Asthma is typically seen in only 4 percent of the 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, lead author of the analysis.

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, which offers responders free medical surveillance examinations and targeted treatment for health conditions related to WTC work exposures. Results were compared with the U.S. National Health Survey Interviews adult sample data for the years 2000 and 2002-07.

"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," said Kalpalatha Guntupalli, president of the American College of Chest Physicians.