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Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
Date:2/10/2010

Preliminary data from lower Manhattan residents suggest a link, nearly a decade later

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, residents and workers exposed to dust and fumes at the World Trade Center site appear prone to persistent, sometimes severe headaches, new research suggests.

"The finding is preliminary," stressed study author Dr. Sara C. Crystal, an instructor in neurology at the New York University School of Medicine in New York City. "We definitely want to study this more. But it's important that we identify this as a problem so we can further explore and help guide treatment."

Crystal is slated to present her research -- the first to look into long-term headache incidence after 9/11 -- this April in Toronto at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

Early indications are that headaches seem to be "very common in World Trade Center populations, along with other physical symptoms, such as gastrointestinal complaints, pulmonary issues and sinus diseases," she said.

Dr. Joan Reibman, who is medical director of the World Trade Center Environmental Health Center at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City and directs the NYU/Bellevue Asthma Center, noted that the finding focuses on people who live and work in the World Trace Center (WTC) area, rather than on the rescue professionals who poured in on a temporary basis just after the attack. Reibman was not involved in the study.

In a 2009 presentation before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on health, Reibman said that the number of people potentially exposed to airborne toxins at the WTC site is considerable, given that the lower Manhattan area of New York City is home to approximately 60,000 people. In addition, nearly 15,000 children attend school in the vicinity, along with a substantial number of university and college students.

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