9/11 Lingers in Mind and Body
Health and psychological effects of 9/11 are still emerging and far-reaching.
Health Effects Linger for Locals and Rescue Workers continued...
Earlier this year, researchers released preliminary findings
based on a sample of 250 of the program's participants. The results show that
about half of the participants experienced persistent lung, ear, nose, and
throat, and/or mental health symptoms 10 months to a year after the terrorist
Other findings include:
- 78% of emergency responders reported at least one WTC-related lung symptom
that first developed or worsened as a result of their WTC work.
- 88% reported at least one WTC-related ear, nose, or throat symptom.
- 52% of participants reported mental health symptoms that require further
medical evaluation, and one in five reported symptoms consistent with
post-traumatic stress disorder.
Researchers say the persistence of these symptoms 10 months to
a year after 9/11 is alarming. Although long-term results have not yet been
published, they say the same issues are continuing at similar rates.
"When we looked at patients seen through April 2003, we're
still seeing a significant number of upper respiratory problems -- meaning
nasal congestion, rhinitis, and sinusitis -- and we're seeing a lot of cough
and persistent shortness of breath," says Jacqueline Moline, MD, medical
core director of the screening program.
Another effect of 9/11 researchers will be watching for in the
future will be the impact of asbestos exposure. Long-term exposure to asbestos
is known to increase the risk of cancer, but it can take decades for those
cancers to appear.
Moline says she's hopeful that rescue workers won't experience
an increase in cancer risk due to asbestos exposure. It will depend on the
extent of exposure for each individual, but she says that the risk is certainly
not as great as the risk seen by those who worked with asbestos for many
Even so, the health effects of 9/11 may also linger for
generations to come. A study published earlier this year in The Journal of
the American Medical Association showed that babies born to mothers who
were exposed to the toxic plume of smoke that followed 9/11 were twice as
likely to have suffered growth problems while in the womb.