FRIDAY May 25, 2012 — People in lower Manhattan whose homes were damaged in the 9/11 terrorist attacks are more likely to have symptoms of respiratory diseases than those whose homes were not damaged, a new study indicates.
Thousands of lower Manhattan residents experienced some type of damage to their homes — such as broken windows and ruined furnishings — after the collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
Previous studies found an increased level of asthma among residents who had a heavy layer of dust in their homes after the attacks. The new findings examine how damage to homes is associated with respiratory diseases and symptoms.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 6,500 lower Manhattan residents who took part in the World Trade Center Health Registry. Five to six years after 9/11, 61 percent reported new or worsening upper respiratory symptoms.
In addition, 16 percent reported shortness of breath, 11 percent reported wheezing, and 7 percent reported chronic cough. About 8 percent had been diagnosed with asthma and 5 percent had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
After controlling for factors such as age, gender, education level, smoking status and exposure to the dust and debris cloud when the Twin Towers collapsed, the researchers concluded that people who had a heavy coating of dust on their homes were, on average, 50 percent more apt to report a respiratory symptom or disease.
The study was to be presented Friday at the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference, in San Francisco.
“This study highlights the magnitude of the 9/11 attacks by showing that people exposed to dust in their homes continued to have respiratory problems even five to six years after the fact,” study author Dr. Vinicius Antao, registries team leader at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a society news release.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.