February 6, 2009

WTC responders still suffering

First responders to the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack in New York are still experiencing health effects, researchers said.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers in New York compared baseline respiratory examinations in WTC responders with follow-up examinations that occurred a minimum of 18 months after baseline.

At the follow-up examination, 24.1 percent of 3,160 people checked still had abnormal spirometry findings -- pulmonary function tests measuring lung function, with the predominant defect being a low forced vital capacity.

The study found that the majority of WTC responders had normal decline in lung function between the baseline and follow-up exams, but initial bronchodilator response -- decreasing airway resistance -- and weight gain were significantly associated with greater-than-normal lung function declines.

The researchers conclude that the continued presence of lung function abnormalities in WTC responders warrants longer-term monitoring.

The study is published in the journal CHEST.