Emergency rescue workers and other 9/11 responders are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with asthma when compared to the general U.S. populations, reports a new study conducted by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM). Specifically, this study focused on the medical records of nearly 21,000 emergency responders who:
- Included both volunteers and paid personnel, including law enforcement officials, construction workers, debris removal workers, protective service workers, etc.
- Had worked at the World Trade Center sites in the aftermath of 9/11 for about 80 days
- Had undergone thorough medical exams from July 2002 to December 2007.
The data from these exams were then compared from data collected by the U.S. National Health Survey Interviews for 2000 and from 2002 through 2007.
MSSM Study’s Findings
Through this analysis, researchers found that:
- About 4 percent of the individuals in the “general population” group had reportedly had at least one asthma attack or episode within the past 12 months.
- Although less than 1 percent of the individuals in the emergency responder group had reported having an asthma episode in 2000, approximately 8 percent reportedly had at least one asthma attack within a 12-month period from 2005 through 2007.
Asthma is a chronic lung condition in which the lung’s airways become constricted and inflamed (due to the presence of some stimuli), which, in turn, causes wheezing, tightness of the chest, coughing and breathing difficulties. While, in the worst cases, asthma can be life-threatening, all cases of asthma are currently incurable – which means that treatment is primarily centered on controlling the symptoms of the condition.
According to Hyun Kim, Sc.D., the lead author of this groundbreaking study, “although previous WTC studies have shown significant respiratory problems, this is the first study to directly quantify the magnitude of asthma among WTC responders.”
While some researchers see the results of this study as being preliminary and necessitating further analysis into the health impacts suffered by 9/11 emergency responders, other view this study as pointing to the need for better preparedness for such disasters.
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