9/11 Still Causing New Physical & Emotional Health Problems

The Journal of the American Medical Association just released a study, "Asthma and Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms 5 to 6 Years Following Exposure to the World Trade Center Terrorist Attack." According to it, number of people reporting PTSD symptoms has increased over time - even 5 to 6 years after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, The Star-Ledger - NJ.com reports.

According to the article which defines the exposures as rescue/recovery workers, lower Manhattan residents, lower Manhattan office workers, and passersby, more than 10% of patients who did not have asthma prior to the event have been diagnosed with asthma 6 years out. Rescue/ recovery workers working on the pile had the highest rates of asthma, with those starting work later having lower rates. Similarly, residents, especially those with home damage, had higher rates of asthma compared to the passerby group. Intense dust cloud exposure was also associated with increased rates of asthma diagnosis. The authors concluded that there is a great "need for surveillance, outreach, treatment, and evaluation of efforts for many years following a disaster to prevent and mitigate health consequences," About - News & Issues reports.

That such a horrific event left lasting physical and emotional scars is, perhaps, no great surprise. Among adults with no prior diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 23.8 percent have reported symptoms after September 11, and the prevalence of symptoms has increased over time.

The mental health effects, which can be debilitating and often chronic, "seem to be the largest health problem coming out of 9/11" says Lorna Thorpe, Ph.D., the deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Division of Epidemiology and one of the coauthors of the study. "But immediately after the 9/11 event, I don't think there was a clear understanding of what the physical impacts would be," CNN reports.

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