NEW YORK, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- World Trade Center first responders suffer from asthma at more than twice the rate of the general U.S. population, due to the toxic dust, researchers say.
Dr. Hyun Kim, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, said past studies have documented high rates of asthma symptoms among WTC responders.
The new study involved 20,834 responders who received medical screenings from July 2002 to December 2007 at the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program. Researchers compared the results with the U.S. National Health Survey Interviews adult sample data for the years 2000, and 2002-07.
The study, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, found 6.3 percent of WTC responders reported asthma symptoms or attacks, compared to 3.7 percent of the U.S. general population during a 12-month period.
"This epidemic of asthma among WTC responders started right after the 9/11 disaster and we are still observing elevated rates of asthma in this population," Kim said in a statement. "It is critical to keep monitoring responders' health and provide proper treatment."