Research on Health Impact on 9/11 Responders, Survivors, LocalsDec 7, 2016
Injury research regarding the 9/11 attacks involves how health issues have affected police responders, fire department, and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) responders, as well as other rescue and recovery workers and volunteers.
FDNY and EMS Workers: One to Four Years Impact after 9/11
According to 9/11 NYC Health, within the first week of the 9/11 attacks, 99 percent of the FDNY exposed firefighters reported no less than one new respiratory symptom while working at the World Trade Center (WTC) site that they had not experienced before. Within the first six months after the attacks, "World Trade Center cough" was diagnosed in three percent of firefighters involved in WTC rescue and recovery work and who were enrolled in FDNY's WTC monitoring program, as well as in eight percent of those who were present during the Twin Towers collapse.
Pulmonary function for firefighters in the year after 9/11 declined at a rate twelve times greater than the average expected decline due to aging. For those exposed at the time of the tower collapse(s), the effects of the pulmonary decline were even greater.
Another study documented 13 cases of new-onset sarcoidosis or sarcoid-like diseases among NYC firefighters. That is an increase roughly six times higher than pre-9/11 levels.
Among 10,378 firefighters who enrolled in the FDNY WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program after 9/11 and were evaluated at yearly intervals over the first four years, cough and sore throat declined significantly. In contrast, other respiratory symptoms such as dyspnea, wheeze, nasal congestion, or GERD (acid reflux), remained relatively stable over this time period. Arrival time at WTC site was linked with higher risk of respiratory symptoms and each additional month of work increased the likelihood of symptoms by eight percent to 11 percent. Elevated PTSD risk was significantly linked to counseling use, functional job impairment and mental-health related medical leave during the first 2.5 years, after 9/11.
Personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are actively reviewing potential lawsuits on behalf of individuals who have suffered symptoms related to Ground Zero exposure.
Impact Four to Nine Years after 9/11
Eight years after 9/11, FDNY researchers demonstrated that the prevalence of a number of physician-diagnosed respiratory conditions among 10,999 WTC exposed male firefighters remained high in comparison to men in the general population. Firefighters reported sinusitis/rhinitis, bronchitis, and COPD/emphysema. The prevalence of probable PTSD among more than 11,000 firefighters in the FDNY WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program nine years after 9/11 was four times higher than in the general population.
Early arrival at the WTC site, exercising less and drinking more alcohol were associated with the persistence or onset of PTSD symptoms, as were co-occurring respiratory or gastroesophageal reflux symptoms. Chronic airways disease was the main lung injury among firefighters with respiratory symptoms referred for evaluation within seven years after 9/11. Among those with depression alone, 28.5 percent self-reported OAD. Researchers found similar results when they used medical records instead of self-reports for the analysis.
Based on surveys of 12,000 firefighters and EMS workers between 2005 and 2008, the FDNY that that over 36 percent were at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In a study of nearly 11,000 firefighters seven to nine years after 9/11, FDNY researchers found that 41.8 percent of those reporting symptoms of probable PTSD also self-re-reported a physician diagnosis of obstructive airways disease (OAD), which includes asthma, bronchitis, or COPD/emphysema, with probable PTSD or depression.
A study of nearly 11,000 responders enrolled in the WTC Health Program looked at their mental health three, six, and eight years after 9/11. The prevalence of PTSD symptoms was much lower among police responders (22 percent) than construction workers (42 percent) in 2009, even though the risk factors were the same for both groups. These factors included prior psychiatric history, Hispanic ethnicity, and severity of WTC exposure and WTC-related medical conditions.
Other Rescue and Recover Workers with Short-Term Impacts
A study of over 1,400 New York State employees, including workers from the State Police, National Guard, and Department of Transportation, found that although they arrived later and had less intense exposure to conditions at the WTC site, state employees report increased rates of mental and physical health effects. Common mental health symptoms include sleep disturbance, excessive fatigue, and irritability. Common physical ailments include respiratory symptoms such as dry cough. State employees caught in the dust cloud were more likely to report both mental and physical health issues. Construction workers who participated in the clean-up, including truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, laborers and sanitation workers, were three times more likely to experience respiratory illness than those who did not work at one of the WTC sites.
A September follow-up study of people on the WTC Health registry found that 9/11 rescue workers had 11 percent more cancer cases than the general New York State population between 2007 and 2011. Survivors also had eight percent more cancer cases than expected over that same period "The findings also provide limited evidence for a causal link between 9/11 exposure and cancer," the Health Department said.
Rescue workers had more cases of prostate and thyroid cancer, while survivors suffered more from breast cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the study discovered. Another study shows that workers who have suffered chronic health problems as a result of 9/11 are more likely to retire early or lose their jobs, according to the New York Post. The problem is even more profound with those suffering from PTSD.
Legal Help Involving Health Effects Related to Ground Zero
Parker Waichman LLP, is a national law firm that has, since the 2001 terrorist attacks, spent many years fighting to ensure that the heroes, survivors, and fallen of the 9/11 attacks are never forgotten. If you or someone you know you is experiencing health issues related to 9/11, you may have valuable legal rights. We urge you to contact the Parker Waichman personal injury lawyers at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).