Health effects of 9/11 still evident seven years later

A report on the health of New Yorkers after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 has revealed that more than 400,000 people in New York City were significantly affected.

The attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, suggests that 35,000 to 70,000 people developed post-traumatic stress disorder and 3,800 to 12,600 people may have developed asthma.

This new analysis of the World Trade Center Health Registry has looked at the health effects of the tragic event on the 71,437 people who were directly affected which represents an estimated 17.4 percent of the people exposed to the disaster.

The analysis found that half of those registered reported being in the dust cloud from the collapsing towers; 70% witnessed a traumatic sight, such as a plane hitting the tower; and 13% sustained an injury on the day of the disaster.

A survey also found that, two to three years after these experiences, 3% of all adults registered reported they had developed asthma, 16% were suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 8% had severe psychological distress.

Most significant was the rate of new asthma, around 6%, experienced by rescue and recovery workers who worked on the debris pile at Ground Zero.

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, at the launch of a campaign directed at people with health problems that might be linked to the destruction of the World Trade Center, said seven years after 9/11, thousands of people continue to suffer, physically and emotionally, from the terrorist attack on that day.

Mayor Bloomberg said rescue and recovery workers and also residents, workers, and students in Lower Manhattan and particular all those who had long and intense exposure to dust and debris from the collapsing towers, have experienced elevated levels of asthma and other respiratory diseases and post-traumatic stress disorder also remains highly prevalent in all of these groups.

The $5 million campaign aims to encourage people to seek help at the WTC Environmental Health Center and access free treatment.

New York City has committed $100 million to addressing 9/11 health problems, but is calling on the Federal Government to play a part by passing the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

This would ensure funding for 9/11 health research and treatment and also make available compensation for people whose injuries or illnesses were not apparent before eligibility for compensation ended in 2003.

Bloomberg says it is clear that the health problems created by 9/11 are likely to be around for many years to come.

The report by the New York City health department is published in the Journal of Urban Health.

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