WTC Firefighters & EMS Workers Still Show Decreased Lung Function
April 8, 2010
A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that New York City firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) workers who responded to the WTC disaster continued to have below-normal lung function up to 7 years after 9/11. Of those who never smoked, 13% of firefighters and 22% of EMS workers showed a persistent and often disabling decline in lung function. The rescue workers are enrolled in the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program at the Fire Department of New York.
“Previous studies have indicated that the effects of firefighting on lung function are mild and reversible,” said lead author Thomas Aldrich, MD, professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and an attending physician in the pulmonary medicine division at Montefiore Medical Center. “The difference seems to be that the workers in our study population experienced repeated daily exposures to much higher concentrations of airborne particulates (solid particles suspended in the air) and gaseous chemicals.”