Health Fallout From Sept. 11 Attacks Continues

U.S. report shows many rescue, recovery workers face respiratory, mental problems

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THURSDAY, Sept. 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Many of the rescue and recovery workers who toiled in the smoke-laden air following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City have now developed respiratory problems and mental health issues, a new government report shows.

The latest findings from the ongoing research, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducted by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, appear in the Sept. 10 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication.

Sixty percent of the workers participating in the study have experienced the onset of lower respiratory problems or the worsening of preexisting lower respiratory problems, while 74 percent have experienced upper respiratory problems.

And 51 percent of the workers in the study have qualified for referral to a mental health professional for evaluation; only 3 percent reported such referrals before the terrorist attack. There has also been a high rate of musculoskeletal problems reported by the workers since the study started.

The researchers said these findings point to the need for longer-term medical monitoring of this group since the potential health fallout from the Sept. 11 attacks could be even more ominous.

According to the Associated Press, Dr. Stephen Levin, who heads Mount Sinai Medical Center's Sept. 11 Health Screening Program, testified before a House subcommittee on Wednesday and stressed that any cancers that might develop in these workers might be missed since funding for the program ends in 2009.

"In this witches' brew of airborne materials found at and near Ground Zero were a number of carcinogens, including asbestos and the ... cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke," Levin told legislators.

Government investigators added that it could take decades to detect all the health woes stemming from the terrorist attacks.

More information

The Sept. 11 Digital Archive has more on the attacks and their aftermath.

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Sept. 9, 2004

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