by Leo Standora
NY Daily News
February 5th 2009
Many Sept. 11 first responders – most of them cops, firemen and construction workers who took ill after working at Ground Zero – suffered
lung problems more than five years later, according to a new study.
Experts say findings by Mount Sinai Medical
Center‘s medical monitoring program prove those exposed to toxic dust in the twin towers’ collapse suffer persistent illnesses, ranging
from asthma to reactive airway disease and shortness of breath.
The study could help experts who have long been struggling to set standards for defining a post-Sept. 11 illness and how long it takes
The monitoring program examined more than 3,160 WTC responders between 2004 and 2007, repeating exams conducted between the middle of
2002 and 2004.
Slightly more than 24% of those examined had abnormal lung function, the study found.
In the earlier examinations, about 28% of the patients had had similar results.
“We know people we are following are still sick. It’s confirming what we’ve been seeing clinically,” said
Dr. Jacqueline Moline, who treats ailing responders and
is a co-author of the study.
The growing medical fallout from the WTC attacks was the focus of the Daily News Editorial Board’s groundbreaking editorial series,
“9/11: The Forgotten Victims,” that won the Pulitzer
Prize in 2007.
As a result of the series, the federal
Department of Health and Human Services released $75 million to monitor and provide health care to 9/11 volunteers –
the first federal funds dedicated explicitly to 9/11 health problems.
Then-Gov. George Pataki later signed a bill to provide
line-of-duty death benefits to responders’ families, Mayor
Bloomberg committed more than $37 million to monitor and treat victims, and Congress filed legislation seeking an additional $1.9 billion
over five years.
Mount Sinai’s program has treated more than 26,000 people who were at the site or worked there in the days after Sept. 11.
The study’s authors note that the participants all asked to be enrolled in the program and may be more symptomatic than others
who were exposed but didn’t enroll.
“The most reasonable explanation is that there’s a subset of people who, for whatever reason, were more sensitive to the stuff that
was inhaled,” Edelman said.