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Thursday, September 11, 2014

WTC Rescue/Recovery and Obstructive Airway Disease

The inhalation of chemicals, particulate matter (dusts and fibers), and the incomplete products of combustion during occupational and environmental disasters has long been associated with respiratory disorders[1]. While there is substantial literature on the association between respiratory diseases and chronic environmental exposures such as air pollution and long term occupational exposure in industries such as mining, silica handling, and construction, much remains to be learned regarding the biological mechanisms that cause such disease and on the latency between acute exposure and disease onset.
The destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York after a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, resulted in a massive, intense dust cloud that was found to contain a huge variety of irritants including partially combusted and/or pulverized wood, paper, and jet fuel; pulverized construction materials including asbestos, glass, silica, fiberglass, concrete, and silica; complex organic chemicals; lead; and other metals.[2] Increased incidence of respiratory disease has been reported in firefighters who worked in the rescue/recovery effort and in other cohorts. Obstructive airways diseases (OAD), such as asthma and chronic bronchitis, have been shown to be associated with intensity of exposure as measured by arrival time at the WTC site.[3] New onset OAD continues to be observed many years after exposure,[4] contrary to conventional wisdom that irritant-induced asthma...
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