herald

Thursday 22 June 2017

Thousands caught in 9/11 fallout now have asthma

Thousands of people exposed to choking dust after the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers have developed asthma.

They included New York rescue and recovery workers, neighbouring office staff and passers-by.

A study of more than 46,000 people caught up in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, found one in 10 had been diagnosed with asthma five or six years after the disaster. None of these 4,600 individuals had a previous history of the disease.

There was a strong association between exposure to the choking dust cloud generated by the collapse of the towers and asthma, the study found.

In total, 39pc of all those who developed asthma had been intensely exposed to the dust.

The most affected group was 21,600 rescue and recovery workers and volunteers, 12.2pc of whom became asthmatic.

More than 8pc of the next worst affected group -- September 11 passers-by -- suffered the disease.

The study's authors, led by Dr Robert Brackbill, who carried out the research in Atlanta, Georgia, published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"These analyses confirm that intense dust cloud exposure was associated with new asthma diagnoses for each eligibility group, including the 1,913 passers-by who only had exposure to the area air and dust on September 11," said the report.

Among rescue and recovery workers, asthma risk was highest for those attending the scene of the attacks on September 11. Risk diminished for individuals who started work at later dates.

Asthma risk was also associated with damage to homes and offices. People who did not evacuate affected buildings had higher rates of asthma than those who did.

hnews@herald.ie

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