NEW YORK, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The attacks on the World Trade Center put about 500,000 people at risk of negative health effects from chemicals, toxins and trauma, U.S. researchers say.
"The New York City health department's volunteer and heart disease studies in the December issue of Preventive Medicine reinforce the importance of tracking the long-term physical and mental health effects of 9/11 and help inform planning for future 9/11-related healthcare needs," Dr. Thomas Farley, health commissioner of New York City Health, said in a statement.
The study of adults found exposure to the dust cloud, having been injured, or developing post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks increased the risk of developing heart disease years after the disaster.
"This exploratory heart disease study suggests that adults who were directly exposed to the World Trade Center disaster and its aftermath have an increased risk for heart disease," first author Dr. Hannah Jordan said in a statement. "It will be important to confirm and expand upon these findings so that appropriate steps can be taken to prevent heart disease in this population."
Respiratory illness, sometimes called "World Trade Center Cough," is more likely to afflict first responders from the Fire Department of New York City than other U.S. males, while bronchitis is nearly six-fold higher in young WTC exposed firefighters, the researchers said.