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WTC Lungs

August 23, 2006

The 9/11 disaster has had lasting effects on rescuers’ lungs.


Lung damage in 9/11 heroes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In the year after 9/11, rescue workers from the World Trade Center site experienced a drop in lung function equivalent to twelve years of aging. That’s the conclusion of a study of over twelve thousand firefighters, led by pulmonologist Gisele Banauch of Montefiore Medical School in New York City. She says they studied health records for the four years leading up to the attacks, and for one year afterward.

GISELE BANAUCH (Montefiore Medical School):
So we need to find out whether the drop that we observed was mainly something that was due to acute irritation of the airways, or whether it was something that started a chronic process, or was a one-time loss that doesn’t resolve.

They did find that the decline was greater in those who were there when the towers fell, or immediately afterwards – and who were therefore exposed to the most volatile dust and ash. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.