Feinstein Institute to study overall impact of WTC disaster on responders

Published on October 26, 2012 at 2:25 AM · No Comments

The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research has been awarded a $1 million grant from the World Trade Center Health Program, which is administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Safety (NIOSH) to comprehensively study the overall physical, mental and socioeconomic impact of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster on responders, as well as identify the linkage between socioeconomic status and health among all occupations of WTC responders.

The attacks on September 11, 2001, created hazardous environments and situations for first responders, community residents and those who helped in cleanup. Firefighters, police officers, construction workers, cleanup workers and others were exposed to airborne toxins and other physical and mental hazards.

"Previous health reports on World Trade Center responders after 9/11 have not made comparisons between the responders and the general population, nor have they comprehensively evaluated the changes of socioeconomic status in these WTC responders," noted Hyun Kim, ScD, investigator at the Feinstein Institute and the principal investigator of the study. "I am thankful that the NIOSH is supporting this investigation, as it will help to identify groups of responders who are at high risk of health issues and develop strategies for prevention and intervention. With successful completion of this two-year study, we expect a substantial improvement of the occupational health surveillance system for World Trade Center responders."

"Dr. Kim's work will complement the clinical work we do every day at the Queens WTC Clinical Center of Excellence, providing medical monitoring and treatment to the men and women who responded to Ground Zero after 9/11, and give us a greater understanding of the total impact of the WTC disaster on our WTC responder community," stated Dr. Jacqueline Moline, director of the Queens WTC Clinical Center of Excellence and vice president of Population Health for the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

The main objective of the proposed study is to establish an expanded occupational health surveillance system that summarizes overall health status of WTC responders over time, and also provides information about symptoms not previously reported. Through this work, it is possible that other health outcomes will be identified and reported, such as autoimmune disorders. The study will compared the health of WTC responders to that of the general population in US and New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY/NJ metropolitan area. Another objective of the study is to investigate the linkage between socioeconomic status and health status among these WTC responders. Lower socioeconomic status is an important potential consequence of WTC exposures that can negatively impact the physical and mental health status of WTC responders. Feinstein Institute researchers conducting the study say they hope the findings will not only identify new diseases and high-risk groups within the WTC responders being studied, but also aid in the future development of new guidelines for implementation of an occupational health surveillance system for disasters, which is essential for disaster preparedness.

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