News / USA

NYC 9/11 Rescuers Experience Lingering Health Problems

Carol Pearson

Nearly 3,000 people died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001. But the twin towers' collapse and their smoldering ruins also exposed thousands of rescuers, firefighters and cleanup crews to toxic ash and smoke. Ten years later, medical researchers say many of these people are suffering higher-than-normal rates of serious disease and psychological problems.

When the World Trade Center towers collapsed into the neighborhood below on September 11, 2001, roiling clouds of smoke and dust filled the air with toxic chemicals.  New York City's police and firefighters ran into those toxic clouds to save whomever they could.

Now, studies show that large numbers of these rescuers and cleanup workers are likely to suffer illnesses related to their 9/11 experience for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Michael Crane, who heads the World Trade Center Health Program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, says some 20,000 September 11 responders have been treated in the program. Dr. Crane contributed to a study published in the medical journal Lancet on the 9/11 health problems.

"Asthma, from the irritation of the bronchial tubes, rhinitis, the inflammation of the nose, laryngitis, sinusitis, the fever and face pain and the nasal stuffiness that it brings," said Crane.  "All of these are now chronic."

Ken George was a recovery worker who spent 700 hours in the dust and debris with fellow responders.

"Every morning I wake up I've got to take 33 pills within the course of the day," said George.  "At 47-years-old I have lungs of an 80-year-old man that would have been a smoker. People say you have to forget about 9/11 and I say, 'How could I forget about 9/11 when every morning I got to take this medication and walk around with an oxygen tank?'"

Doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital also noticed that a lot of the responders suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and extreme anxiety.

"Our population has a similar rate of these symptoms to people who've been in recent wars," added Crane.  

Another study links exposure to the toxins with cancer.

"Our findings show that there is an increased cancer [risk] in the World Trade Center exposed New York City firefighters," said Dr. David Prezant of Einstein College of Medicine.  "We found an increase of 19 percent in the cancer likelihood."

The cancer study has lasted only seven years, a short time when cancers can take up to 20 years to develop. Dr. Prezant wants more of those exposed to the toxins from the twin towers to be screened for cancer.

"We can never take back that 9-11 exposure and so we need to have an aggressive screening program," he said.

The doctors also say they expect more of those who were at the World Trade Center site to become ill as time goes on. And, they suspect that the cancer rate will remain higher-than-average among this group over the next ten years.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs