We compared the prevalence of asthma among WTC responders to the general population of adults in the United States.
The WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program screened responders’ health between July 2002 and September 2007. During that period, 20,843 responders (not including FDNY firefighters) completed medical and exposure assessment questionnaires during their first exam. We calculated two asthma outcomes: 1) an “asthma episode/attack” during the previous 12 months, and 2) “Have you ever been told by a doctor that you had asthma?”. The comparison group was U.S. National Health Survey Interviews (NHIS) adult sample data during the years 2000 (pre 9/11) and 2002–2007.
WTC responders at their first exam were mean age 43 years; 86% were men; 59% were Caucasian; and 42% were law enforcement workers. The prevalence of 12 months asthma episode/attack remained relatively constant at little less than 4% in the general population during 2000–2007. Among WTC responders, fewer than 1% recalled an asthma episode during the year 2000 (recall bias and healthy worker effect), but about 3%, 5%, 7%, and 8% reported such episodes during the years 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 respectively. The standard morbidity ratio (observed/expected prevalence) for 12 months asthma episode/attack in all periods was 2.3 for both men and women; and for lifetime asthma was 1.4 for men and 1.7 for women.
Asthma was common amongst the rescue and recovery workers who were exposed to caustic dust and toxic pollutants following the 9/11 attacks.
Workers should be protected from exposures to massive and complex hazards. Since asthma is common following such exposures, long-term medical follow-up is recommended.
Hyun Kim, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information