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WTC attacks upped firefighter retirements

NEW YORK, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Researchers say Fire Department of New York disability retirements spiked after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, mostly due to respiratory-related illness.

Study leader Dr. David J. Prezant, FDNY chief medical officer, says about 10 percent of the workforce took disability retirement after the World Trade Center attack at a cost of more than $826 million to the FDNY pension system.

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"It is clear that the WTC attack has had an enormous impact on the health of the FDNY workforce and, as a consequence, its pension system," Prezant says in a statement. "Human suffering cannot be measured in dollars alone but does serve as a reminder that recovery efforts, when rescue is no longer possible, should be carried out with special attention to the preservation of health for the responders."

Prezant and colleagues assessed a total of 7,763 retired firefighters from Sept. 11, 1994, and Sept. 10, 2008, comparing the total number of retirements and the number and proportion of accidental disability retirements seven years before and seven years after the WTC attack.

The study, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, found that in the seven years before Sept. 11, 2001, there were 3,261 retirements -- of which 48 percent were disability retirements. In the seven years after Sept. 11, 2001, there were 4,502 retirements -- 66 percent of them disability retirements, of which 47 percent were associated with WTC-related injuries or illnesses.

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