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Lung Problems Persist for 9/11 Responders
Date:2/5/2009

Nearly a quarter still have breathing problems, study finds

THURSDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Almost a quarter of a sample of people exposed to toxic dust after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack in New York City still suffer from diminished lung capacity, a new study finds.

The rate of problems is much higher than normal, about 2.5 times more than would be expected in people who smoke, said study co-author Dr. Jacqueline Moline, director of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program Clinical Center.

"These tests confirm what we've seen clinically: People are sick, they're short of breath," Moline said. "They used to run miles a day, now they can barely run the length of a football field."

But it's not clear what all of this means for their health in the long term, the researchers said.

The study findings appear in the February issue of the journal Chest.

Experts estimate that about 40,000 people, including fire and rescue workers, were exposed to noxious pollution in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center.

Between 2004 and 2007, researchers gave breath tests to 3,160 9/11 workers and volunteers who had taken part in an earlier round of tests from 2002 to 2004.

About a quarter of those tested still have limited lung capacity and lung function, Moline said. "The most common finding we see is that people aren't able to take in as deep of a breath as you'd expect, and some can't push it out as much."

The normal rate of lung capacity problems for a similar group of people would be five percent for non-smokers and 10 percent for smokers, she noted.

"These are problems we're seeing five or six or seven years after the towers fell," Moline said. "Many of these folks are going to have long-term problems, and their lung function won't return to normal."

She said that researchers may never know what component of t
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