N.Y. State responders to 9/11 attack also have physical, mental health symptoms

November 14th, 2007 - 10:29 am ICT by admin  

For the study, lead author Dr. Matthew P. Mauer of the New York State Department of Health, and colleagues evaluated health effects in 1,423 state workers who responded to the WTC disaster.

The majority of these workers were from the New York State Police, National Guard, or Department of Transportation.

As a group, the state workers had less-intense exposure to conditions at “Ground Zero” than reported in previous studies of first responders, such as New York City police or firefighters.

Still, two-thirds were working at the WTC site during the last two weeks of September, 2001. In addition, 110 of the state workers were in the vicinity of the WTC before the attacks and were caught in the cloud of dust when the towers collapsed, the researchers said.

When evaluated in 2002-2003, the state workers had elevated rates of physical and mental health symptoms, with nearly half having respiratory (breathing-related) symptoms. The most common symptom, reported by 30 percent of workers, was a dry cough.

The team found that nearly one-third of the state workers had experienced new or worsening psychological symptoms since working at the WTC site: most commonly sleep problems, fatigue, and irritability. Just three percent of affected workers had received any treatment for these symptoms.

Both types of symptoms were more common among workers who were caught in the cloud of dust. This included specific psychological symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as feeling jumpy/easily startled, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, and flashbacks.

Previous studies have reported various health effects in WTC first responders and community residents. The health evaluations in New York State workers provide an opportunity to evaluate the effects of later exposure to conditions at the disaster site.

The results suggest that, despite their lower exposure, state workers who responded to the WTC disaster have also experienced negative health effects. Although the workers in the new study generally have fewer symptoms, the types of symptoms are similar to those in studies of first responders.

Dr. Mauer and co-authors write, “Clinicians treating patients who responded to the WTC disaster should be aware that responders with less exposure than first responders have reported respiratory and psychological symptoms.”

The study is published in the November issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). (ANI)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Health |