Thursday, September 11, 2008

Illness Persisting in 9/11 Workers,



By ANTHONY DePALMA


The largest health study yet of the thousands of workers who labored at ground zero shows that the impact of the rescue and recovery effort on their health has been more widespread and persistent than previously thought, and is likely to linger far into the future.


The study, released yesterday by doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center, is expected to erase any lingering doubts about the connection between dust from the trade center and numerous diseases that the workers have reported suffering. It is also expected to increase pressure on the federal government to provide health care for sick workers who do not have health insurance.
Roughly 70 percent of nearly 10,000 workers tested at Mount Sinai from 2002 to 2004 reported that they had new or substantially worsened respiratory problems while or after working at ground zero.


The rate is similar to that found among a smaller sample of 1,100 such workers released by Mount Sinai in 2004, but the scale of the current study gives it far more weight; it also indicates significant problems not reflected in the original study.


For example, one-third of the patients in the new study showed diminished lung capacity in tests designed to measure the amount of air a person can exhale. Among nonsmokers, 28 percent were found to have some breathing impairment, more than double the rate for nonsmokers in the general population.


The study is among the first to show that many of the respiratory ailments — like sinusitis and asthma, and gastrointestinal problems related to them — initially reported by ground zero workers persisted or grew worse in the years after 9/11.


Most of the ground zero workers in the study who reported trouble breathing while working there were still having those problems up to two and a half years later, an indication that the illnesses are becoming chronic and are not likely to improve over time. Some of them worked without face masks, or with flimsy ones. “There should no longer be any doubt about the health effects of the World Trade Center disaster,” said Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of Mount Sinai’s World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program. “Our patients are sick, and they will need ongoing care for the rest of their lives.”


Dr. Herbert called the findings, which will be published tomorrow in Environmental Health Perspectives, the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, “very worrisome,” especially because 40 percent of those who went to Mount Sinai for medical screening did not have health insurance, and will thus not get proper medical care. The Mount Sinai results found, as studies done by the New York City Fire Department also have, that those who showed up in the first hours and days after the twin towers collapsed have the worst medical problems. Seventy percent of the workers in the study arrived at the site between Sept. 11 and Sept. 13.


Mount Sinai’s screening and monitoring program, which excludes New York firefighters, who are tested in a separate program, run by the New York Fire Department, covers law enforcement officers, transit workers, telecommunications workers, volunteers and others who worked at ground zero and at the Fresh Kills landfill, where debris was taken.


Members of the New York Congressional delegation, who have been fighting to get the federal government to recognize the scope of the health problem created by toxic materials at ground zero, saw the Mount Sinai study as proof that the federal government has been too slow to address the issue.


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who participated in the news conference at Mount Sinai yesterday morning, along with Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn B. Maloney, said that the results made the need for federal assistance for treatment more critical than ever.


“This study, I hope, puts to rest any doubt about what is happening to those who were exposed,” said Mrs. Clinton, who was among those who pushed for $52 million in federal funding for health treatment for the ground zero workers, the first treatment money provided by the Bush administration. “This report underscores the need for continued long-term monitoring and treatment options — they go hand in hand,” she said.


Several members of the delegation are scheduled to meet in Washington tomorrow morning with Michael O. Levitt, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to press for more aid.


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, speaking at a news conference at City Hall yesterday, questioned the conclusiveness of the study, saying that statistics could suggest a connection between events, but not prove a direct link.


“I don’t believe that you can say specifically a particular problem came from this particular event,” he said. Nonetheless, Mr. Bloomberg announced that the city would create a screening and treatment program for anyone exposed to the trade center dust or fumes.


The Mount Sinai study, released yesterday, which covers 9,442 workers who met the screening program’s eligibility criteria and agreed to have their health data included, focused on respiratory problems because doctors believe those illnesses are the first to surface. Of those studied, 46.5 percent reported symptoms like chest tightness, shortness of breath and dry cough that generally affect the lower airways of the lungs.


And 62.5 percent reported upper-respiratory symptoms like sinusitis and nose and throat irritations. (The study did not include cases of cancer reported by workers and their relatives.)
The doctors said that the persistent nature of the respiratory symptoms raised troubling questions about the workers’ long-term health. Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, a founder of the screening program at Mount Sinai and an author of the new study, said that the toxic nature of the trade center dust had led doctors to conclude that there would be serious health issues for years to come, especially for workers who were exposed to the heaviest concentrations in the early days after the terrorist attack.


“This was extremely toxic dust,” Dr. Landrigan said, noting that some samples showed the dust to be as caustic as drain cleaner. The dust also contained innumerable tiny shards of glass, which could get lodged in the lungs, and a stew of toxic and carcinogenic substances, like asbestos and dioxin, that could potentially lead to cancer decades from now.


With the expanding dimensions of 9/11 health problems, concern is also growing about the cost of health care for responders, particularly the 40 percent who either never had health insurance or who lost employer-provided coverage after they became too sick to work.


Dr. Landrigan declined to estimate what the total cost might be, saying only “it will be very expensive.”


Dr. John Howard, who was named the federal 9/11 health coordinator in February, has already said that the $52 million the federal government has appropriated for treatment late last year is inadequate. He said in an interview yesterday that the new study will very likely mean that the gap between funds and the need for them is going to grow.


But he said the solid medical data from Mount Sinai would help him make the case that more needs to be done. He said that there was little doubt that if a third of the people in the study showed abnormal breathing, similar problems exist among the entire population of 40,000 rescue and recovery workers.


“These are just the kind of facts that are important in making a logical argument that the funding needs to be adjusted,” said Dr. Howard, who is also the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


Mount Sinai officials said they would release a study of mental health effects on ground zero workers soon. They also are planning to begin a statistical program this fall to examine the occurrence of cancer, lung diseases and other ailments among that group. That information will then be compared to national rates to see if there is a higher-than-expected incidence of those diseases.

27 comments:

Omar.Francis said...

I understand that people lost their lives in 9/11 but you should leave the rescuing to the fireman and police men.I would go in there only if I knew that I would be covered by the goverment with a health plan.I understand that saving another's life represent what america stands for,but then again you are little people that the goverment steps and lies to because they think we are not important.they use us as pawns in their little corrupted system.That shows how much they really kare about us.I mean if they did dont u think they would of tried to find another solution or another way of helping the ones who are ill now from 9/11.But then again I understan that it is human natrue to save somebody in need however when running into the building doesnt it occur to you that u do not have a health plan more the less coverage.they think if they save somebody that they are going to heaven,but now they can live thier lives knowing that they saved somebodies life but at the end was it worth it?BUT for those who lost their lives and risked their lives for others thank you and i feel sorry you have to live this way.smh{shaking my head}

t alexander said...

l agree with apeksha they should have separate center for sick people who can get medicine,help with some other things.In this article saying their are many people who got disease like asthma,gastrointestinal problems.l think federal government to provide health care for sick workers who do not have health insurance.

a.pervaiz said...

After hearing everybodys thoughts and comments in class, I agree with wat Omar had said that "You should leave the rescuing to the fireman and police men". I know its hard for the person to think before he/she responds to their reacton, but doesn't everyone look at themselves before they look at the person next to them? Running into the burning building without a health plan is not going to do the person any good. Also, I disagree with what apeksha had said that "They should have a seperate center for the sick people". But, what about those people who dont have a pair of clothes to wear, who have no parents, and who walk in the streets with different kinds of diseases? I believe it wouldn't be fair to them. What would the government say to them, "No, you are not capable of being treated at this service center". You have to look at both ways. It would be nice if their was a service center, but it just wouldn't be fare for the other people who need
medicine also.

a.pervaiz

n. demetrius said...

As Matt Frank says it does take a lot of courage for someone to run towards the building and do whatever they can to help someone. If someone I knew was put in that situation and did stay there and help out and now they're becoming sick, I know I would want them to get treated. The story Mr. Brown told us about how the guy already spent 500,000 towards his health shows us that 52 million isn't really enough to help all of those people. It's easy for us to say help out the workers but you really have to think about how much money that's going to cost. Its sad to see that most of the people are not covered because they don't have health insurance, but you don't really think about things like that when all you want to do is help people in that situation.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that the government should pay for everyone who has been affected in health by 9/11. Its way too expensive, the government can't dish out trillions of dollars to all the victims. It is however, very unfortunate that our heroes have to live this way. And perhaps instead of blaming the government, we could reach into our pockets and help people affected by 9/11.

-N. Budhu

Anonymous said...

On 9/11 there were many people running scared and than there were the people running in. No one was told to go help besides the police and firefighters , but its there job that's what there getting paid for. Yes you will feel good about yourself for helping someone else out but if no ones going to help you out than you should limit the help you give. Not having health care and now your sick you can't expect for the government to help you out. There are so many other disease out there because "people didn't think they just acted" so because of their actions we should pay for their medical care? Think before you leap there are other ways to do good things.

-CMartinez

L. molina said...

I believe that the people who weren’t firefighters or police officers should still be taken care of by the government. Yes maybe they weren’t told to go in and help out but the reason why they did this was to help save lives. They didn't really question or thought about what consequences this was going to bring for them in the future. I agree with Apeksha that the government could be able to put doctor offices so the people that are sick can go get their check ups and receive the treatments they need.

a.hughey said...

i agree with Omar when he said that it wasnt there job to go into0 the bruning buildings and try to be a super hero. as well as crystal who said that we hae police and firemen to do the jobs of saving lives. as it was said many times, they didnt think about what was going to happen after they decided to save all those people. the polie and firemen obviously dont havea problem saving lives (no matter what the cost is to them) simply because all their benefits come with the job and come when they retire. they get the whole package. so it really doesnt matter to them whether they get sick or not obviously because their covered. as for the people who decided to risk their lives in running into a burning building and saving people, to them they want a reward. but to us it was a Risk and now their paying the price for the risk they decided to take in life. they may sound harse but thats just how i feel.

U. Cheema said...

It's a shame and it is disheartening that for the sake of humanity people aren't being given the proper health care when such a tragedy occured 7 years ago which nearly destroyred America and that govermment officials have to "press for more aid" that have been brutally effected by it. A seperate health and medical facility should have been set up for the workers at Ground Zero.

If the govermment can spend $3 Trillion on a senseless war that should have not been fought in the first place. The American people have been lied to. It's ok to spend that much for something stupid. But let's not care if people live or die and sacrificed their lives for those that were dying when they shouldn't have. It's too much to ask for. We can't spend too much money then were suppose to. Why should we care when billions are being spent for the war each month? But no it's wrong to spend more the $52 million to make one's health better. Free and quality health care for all as they have in Cuba.

h.sugrim said...

I agree with omar that those people who went in and helped others out should have left it the the police and firemen, but they risked their life for others. It's not like they climbed a tree to saved a cat, they risked their own lives to save other. Most of them mught still be sick but if one of those people that got helped from someone else was one of my family, I would rather have him alive than dead. And I think that everyone in our class would rather have their loved ones alive than dead. So to those people who got saved from others, their family thinks he is a hero. When Mattt F. said,
"Batman doesn't get rewarded". Batman is a fictional character, this is real life, so i think those people who saved others should get some kind of help, even if they don't have health insurance.

Jray Vicencio said...

You know this topic basically from my ears comes from a logical explanation. Don't go in because if you do your risking everyone's life. You know in real world perspective that's the plan. But here i feel as if the people who I respect to the fullest extent and praise who saved other lives are heroes. The people who never expected anything back but to give another person there life back. That is such a big thing to carry, and it shoudl've been rewarded. But unfortunately the world we live in is full of money mongrels who all they care about is the all mighty dollar. So unfortunately we are not able to support everyone and that's true. In a real world perspective we cant support everyone who got sick, it would cause a big burden. People i think that are expecting money aren't heroes, at the end of the day all they wanted was to know that they saved someone. Its just really sad how there dying of a bad illness and suffering. I feel as if i would Most definitively save the people and would have never expected anything back. To me those people are heroes no the people who are fighting to get money, its there fault and that's the harsh realty. The world we live in is run by ugly people, only if they people that ran this world were the people that would put there foot forward and save someone else, well that's a world that's way far from ours. Its a hard pill to swallow but we cant just support everyone, which is the sad reality but instead of complaining about it, we should have run money fundraisers if people cared so much to take care of the medical bills, but whats happen to that? People don't want to take money out of their own wallets, they want the government to pay everything. Its just the hard reality we face a society but we all have to live with this harsh reality.

Alex D. said...

Today in class I was extremely interest in the topic but I think some of the student that were in my class forgot what today was it’s September 11 .Seven year ago most of my classmates were in 5th or 6th grade. Well ill recap for those who forgot .Seven years ago we lost thousands of brother, sister, dads , moms and friends because of a terrorist attack . When this terrible event happened some people ran for there life and some jump into the building to save someone in need .Some of those people who jump into those building would never come out and those who did pay the price later on with there health .sadly those people who help those people at the world trade center .well probable never get the full care that they deserve because we just don’t have enough money to afford everyone’s treatments. I honestly don’t understand Melisa’s comment I believe that nothing compare to my life and my families so it doesn’t matter what I have to do ill do it .I hope that you could consider the feeling of those who have lost love one’s or those who’s family member are sick because of 9/11 .
Just waiting for the comeback
Show some respect
Thank you
A Deonarine

M. Frank said...

I believe I was been misunderstood when I referenced the clearly fictional character "Batman" as a hero. I was just using a well known superhero as an example to justify the difference between him and the idea of a hero we have in the real world.
We can all agree that these people who risked their lives and braved the conditions to help others deserve adequate health care and coverage. The ones who charged in there without proper medical insurance or coverage cannot have their images as heroes taken away from them, though in hindsight their decisions should have been analyzed more carefully. Though anyone who has ever experienced a high adrenaline, catastrophic event can tell you that you rarely take in all the consequences beforehand. These people are heroes, realistically, and need to be accomodated for their splendid efforts.

Sanaa Elissa Awan said...

The government should help pay for medical costs.

The money can be split to help pay for the services, it’s not fair that only a few people can get treated. They should take some of the money they invest in killing innocent people in Iraq and use it to save lives instead. You shouldn’t have to think about your health insurance before you do something to help someone. That’s the difference between the attitudes of American’s within a month after 9/11 and now. They listened to their first instincts. You shouldn’t regret saving a life. The responders of 9/11 helped out of good will. They didn’t do it because they wanted a reward. They deserve the medical assistance.

Why should you think about the consequences of doing the right thing?


-A1

K Singh said...

Today's discussion was very contreversal. Many people had different opioions on today's article. I agree with omar when he said "You should leave the rescuing to the fireman and police men". It's not their jobs to go save people. When they went in and tried to save other people they're putting themselves into danger and they going to make their families go through a tough time by getting themselves into danger. But it's a tough position to be in because your mind ins't thinking health insurance and the future that time, their minds are just reacting to what they see and that is that someone needs help. So eventough i think it wans't the smartest thing to do that time but we still have to apploaud them for their efforts and bravery.

saba said...

I aqree with apeksha that thats maYbe we shOuld have a seprate health care center peOple that help shOuld be cOverd by qOverment. fIrst they are dOinq a qoOd thing they are helpinq Outt and i saii if they are helpinq Out and sUmthinq harms them i think the qOverment shOuld take fUll ResOnsibilitY tOwards them.

R. Kaur said...

there were many moments in today's class where i disagreed with the statements being made. for example what omar and crystal said about the people not are not superheros and should not act like them and go run into buildings and help out. as i have said numerous times in class, if it weren't for the volunteer's man lives would not have been saved. they did save many lives.
i also think that 52million is not enough money given the fact that over 3000 lost their lives and thousands have been sick. if we do not help them now, we can not expect them be there for us if godforbid somthing else happens, because to them their gov. did not help them when it was their time in need, so why should they go out and risk their lives if they can not have any support in trying to cure themselves.

M.Barnett said...

Everyone keeps saying that "you should leave the rescuing to the firemen and police" and "also that no one told the people to run into the buildings", but they're a lot of patriotic people in this world who don't only think about themselves. Just think about it what if your parent, relative or grandparents were in there alive and people just ran past her and left her there to die?? Another thing is that the police and fireman aren't always the first people to arrive on the scene, and on 9/11 there was a lot of traffic so it took a long time for them to arrive.The way i feel is if someone is in danger and there is no one else around to save them, no police or firemen have arrived, i would try to save them myself.
The point i was trying to prove in class was that the people who are sick now aren't the people who necessarily ran in the building. The people who are mainly sick are the ones who pitched in to help clean up the debris of the aftermath. Also i remember on TV all the news people and reporters urged people and told them if they can that they should volunteer to clean up because the city needed all the help possible.Now the people who are sick are in need of help and the government are saying there is nothing more they can do because they already gace 52 million, that's unfair.The government only wants to make themselves look good while innocent people are at home dying painfully and slowly.I'm not saying the government should spend money on them, but they should atleast come up with a way to help cure the people.They weren't the ones down there helping clean up and if it happened to a politician they would bring awareness to the issue, but becasuce its not them they're sweeping it under the rug and people are dying.

Gitu K. said...

As we all know 9/11 was a tragedy to everyone and no one expected somethig like that to happen. When it did happen the government didnt know how to react. Like what Omar said to leave the saving to the fireman and policeman. Then again if you know someone there, i would personally go back even though im risking my life and my health. and the government should support people who are sick because of 9/11. I also agree on what Melissa said, most people die even after medcine, if thesickness is bad then off course they dont got a chance to live that long. Basically they all should be covered and the government should notice it too.

-Gitu

a vora said...

Once again we had a discussion like no other. I think this discussion actually makes you think. How far would you really go to help someone out? I think that the people that helped others that lives were endangered should be applauded for what they did. I don't even think there should be a controversy about if they should get money or not. I agree with Mr. M, who said that who are the real hero’s? The police officers and firefighters who are doing there job, or those who went out of there way to help those in need. I think that if we do have a center based on those who were affected by 9/11 maybe we could save some money & things might work out better.

a vora said...

Oh one more thing, in response to Amir all I have to say is that i disagree with what you said and also i just want to clarify that in class i said that we should have a separate center for those who were affected by 9/11 to join this center. There are many places that people can go to,to seek help.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what sana said bout how the government should take money from things they don't really need it and it should go towards helping those aho are sick....I think the government should help some,but I also think people should understand the consequences for their actions...like crystal said you dont get rewarded for every good thing you do.

-j.canales

C.Jones said...

I think that the city should help as many of the 9/11 workers as possible, because they went out their way to help the people in need. I think that if it was their family member in trouble they would want someone to help them.

a.potter said...

I agree with Omar because there are cops and firefighters out there for a reason. If we knew people would have the guts to just run in the building and rescue people, there would be no need for cops and firefighters. Most people get rewarded for good deeds that they do but not always. Cops do their job and don't look forward to anything but their pay check. I don't think its fair to expect a reward for having the guts to save someone.

Anonymous said...

To me i think it's a outrage that people are becoming ill from 9/11. I actually think that the government should be held responsible. They should give the people that were injured a free health care system that would be able to help cure them over time while paying for their expenses. Its really a shame that it all happened(9/11) in the first place.


- ETHAN ROSENBERG

A Rao. said...

Everyone's talking about the people that went in to help out. What most of them don't know is that all the rescue personnel were government workers(NY/NJPA, FDNY, NYPD etc.) that are in unions. The government is required to pay for their health care. There was no question about responsibility on the part of the workers. They were assured about their health care.
As for the civilian rescuers, they were already in the buildings when everything started and had a moral obligation to help. Besides, all the dust and toxic material was spreading through downtown long before anyone could do anything about it.

AngeliqueL said...

It depends on how children should be responded if asked depending on there age. If older i would explain what happened thurly so they arent running around confused with false information. Honestly, i wouldnt even know what to represent the people in the plane by. They are people. That dislike the way we acted towards them yes it was a harsh way to handle the situation, thats what they obviously felt we deserved sadly. The U.S. changed alot after 9/11 people are sad but strongly responding to that day. And trying not to take life for granted.

-Angelique L.