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World Trade Center Workers Twice as Likely to Have Asthma
Date:11/3/2009

Rates continued to rise for several years after the attacks, study shows

TUESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- World Trade Center rescue and cleanup workers have asthma rates twice that of the general population, a new study shows.

In 2005, about 8 percent of workers and volunteers who had spent time at Ground Zero reported having an asthma attack during the previous year, compared to about 4 percent of the general population. The rate of asthma attacks among World Trade Center workers had been less than 1 percent in 2000.

Reports of problems with asthma continued to rise for several years after the attacks. Less than 3 percent of World Trade Center workers reported ever having been diagnosed with asthma attacks pre-9/11, while 16 percent reported in 2005 through 2007 that they had asthma attacks at some point.

"Twice as many World Trade Center responders are suffering from asthma when compared to those their age from the general population," said senior study author Dr. Paul Enright, a research professor of medicine at the University of Arizona.

The study was to be presented Tuesday at the American College of Chest Physicians' annual meeting in San Diego.

Researchers followed about 20,000 responders who received an initial medical exam between July 2002 and December 2007 at a World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program clinic.

Participants were asked if they had experienced an asthma attack in the last year, and whether they had ever been diagnosed with asthma.

The average amount of time spent at World Trade Center sites was about 80 days. About 86 percent of the law enforcement, construction and other rescue, recovery and debris removal workers in the study were men, 59 percent were white and their mean age was 43.

Previous research has found that new asthma diagnoses peaked soon after 9/11 and then fell to closer to normal in the ensuing years. A
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