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9/11 Responders, Workers Still Suffer an Excess of Illnesses
Date:9/2/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- First responders and workers at the World Trade Center site right after 9/11 continue to suffer an excess of physical and mental ills, including a possible increase in their risk for cancer.

Many rescue and recovery workers had some kind of physical or mental health problem nine years after their heroic efforts at the site, according to one of three studies appearing in a special Sept. 1 issue of The Lancet.

And people who were either working or living in lower Manhattan at the time of the attack had a 10 percent increased risk in cancer. Although it's unusual to see a spike in cases so soon, the authors of this second study do believe that the increased incidence is likely a result of carcinogens in the dust that filled the air after the attacks on the World Trade Towers.

"At the 10-year point after 9/11, we're still seeing a great deal of persistent disease in the first responders, the police, the firefighters, the construction workers," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, senior author of the first study and chairman of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City. Landrigan's department houses the Mount Sinai WTC health program.

Landrigan's study of more than 27,000 rescue and recovery workers found that almost 28 percent had asthma, 42 percent had sinusitis and 39 percent had gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Both the respiratory and digestive problems are the result of the dust cloud emanating from the disaster site that entered people's airways, causing inflammation and scarring, and burned its way into the esophagus, the study concluded.

"These people swallowed that very, very caustic dust which . . . was extremely alkaline. It was described as inhaling Drano in powdered form," Landrigan said.

Dr. Stacey L. Silvers, an otolaryngologist with Beth Israel Medical Center in New York Ci
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