Low Rate of Lung Function Decline in World Trade Center Responders: Study

Decreased lung function was more likely for officers with respiratory symptoms, those who were present when the towers collapsed, and those who worked long hours at the WTC site.

Ninety-five percent of officers in the New York Police Department (NYPD) Emergency Services Unit (ESU) who responded to the 2001 World Trade Center (WTC) disaster show no long-term decrease in lung function, reports a study in the June Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Led by Eli J. Kleinman, M.D., supervising chief surgeon of the NYPD, the researchers analyzed lung function changes in 206 WTC responders from the ESU. All ESU officers are required to take an annual lung function tests, posing a unique opportunity to study possible changes in the years after exposure to the WTC site. Also, unlike firefighters responding to the WTC, the ESU officers didn’t have a history of repeated exposure to respiratory hazards.

Some lung function measures were lower at follow-up tests in 2002 and 2007. However, most of the ESU officers had no change in lung function, beyond the expected age-related declines.

The remaining five percent of the officers did have reductions consistent with mild lung dysfunction. Decreased lung function was more likely for officers with respiratory symptoms, those who were present when the towers collapsed, and those who worked long hours at the WTC site. Smokers had greater declines in lung function, as did the small number of officers who didn’t wear respiratory protective devices while working at the WTC site.

Overall, the results provide “encouraging expectations” that most WTC responders won’t experience long-term declines in lung function. Of course, there’s continued concern about the small but significant proportion with persistent or worsening declines in lung function.

Kleinman and colleagues plan close follow-up in high-risk groups: smokers, officers with respiratory symptoms, and those highly exposed to the WTC site. The authors think their findings also have important implications for disaster planning and preparedness — emphasizing the need for effective personal protective gear and limited duty hours at sites where responders could be exposed to hazardous conditions.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Comply with OSHA’s Electronic Recordkeeping Requirements

    Collect relevant incident data and generate accurate OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 regulatory reports, including 300A CSV files for easy electronic submission to OSHA.

  • Complete Online Safety Training Courses

    Deliver state-of-the art, online safety training courses to your organization with IndustrySafe Training Management Software. Generate reports to track training compliance and automatically notify learners of upcoming or overdue classes.

  • Easy to Use Safety Inspection App

    Conduct inspections on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Complete safety audits at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus