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World Trade Attack Health Effects Linger

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, August 05, 2009 12:07 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: 9/11, World Trade Towers, Asthma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The linger effects of 9/11 are still felt among thousands who were in the area when the fire, smoke and debris clouded downtown Manhattan.

World Trade Attacks

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IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons / World Trade Center Aerial View (March 2001) / author: Jeffmock

 

September 11, 2001.

It’s been nearly eight years since the twin World Trade Center towers perished along with the nearly 3,000 people working inside and exposed more than 400,000 people in downtown Manhattan to smoke, fire, and debris that clouded the area.

A registry of more than 71,000 exposed individuals finds that the medical and psychological effects are lingering even today.

Newsday, the newspaper of Long Island, reports that the registry, launched in 2003, compiled by the New York City Health Department, is the largest post-disaster database in U.S. history.

Working with Columbia University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), epidemiologists are uncovering how a single incident can have ramification both physically and mentally for years to come.

Registrants were questioned and answered questions online, by telephone or in a mail-in form during the years 2006 and 2007.

Among the findings:

  • Asthma is seen elevated in all groups of people whether office workers, emergency personnel, residents or tourists. 25,000 people say they developed asthma after the incident.

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms are pervasive and more than were expected. 61,000 say they have post-traumatic stress symptoms, which faded over time for about one-third of the participants. But symptoms rose from the first survey in 2003-2004 from 14 to 19 percent in 2006-2007. PTSD includes flashbacks, depression, feelings of detachment and nightmares. A portion of those people also report they have asthma.

  • PTSD contributed to job losses or other traumas which triggered late-onset stress symptoms in those who directly experienced the disaster.

  • 21 percent report seeing a mental health professional in the last year and 14 percent are taking medication for a mental health condition.

The results are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which is devoting Wednesday’s issue to the effects of violence on the human condition.

"The diagnoses correlated with the exposures people had," such as witnessing people jumping from the burning towers or direct contact with the dense, billowing dust cloud following the towers' collapse, said Lorna Thorpe, a deputy commissioner for the New York City Health Department, speaking to Reuters.

Meanwhile, agreement has been reached between the two sides in the 9/11 lawsuits against the city of New York. Lawyers representing injured workers and lawyers for the city have agreed to begin hearing cases in the spring of 2010.

“The people who need relief the most will be at the front of the line, where they should be,” said Paul J. Napoli, an IB member, to the New York Times last December. His firm represents more than 9,000 of the workers. #


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