Study: Children, Teen Exposure to 9-11 Attacks may Lead to Asthma, Behavioral Issues

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Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

Concerns are on the rise over asthma control in adolescents and young adults exposed to the September 11th terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and who have been diagnosed with asthma.

Research just published in the journal, Pediatric Research, studied both asthma and asthma control during a 10-11 year period after the attacks in exposed adolescents and teens. Researchers of the study entitled, “Asthma Control in Adolescents 10 to 11 Years after Exposure to the World Trade Center Disaster,” concluded that comprehensive care of post-9/11 asthma in adolescents should also include management of mental health-related comorbidities.

There is no statute of limitation (SOL) on children in this case; therefore, kids do not age out of SOL protection. In other words, if a child was 10 years old at the time he/she was exposed to the attacks and developed asthma as a result of the attacks and is 25 years old today, under most circumstances, that individual has not aged out of compensation.

Since the attacks, researchers found that the thick plume of dust and debris that hovered over lower Manhattan contained a toxic mix of compounds, including asbestos; pulverized cement; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); benzene; dioxin; glass fibers; gypsum; jet fuel; heavy metals, including lead and other chemicals; irritants; toxins; and carcinogens. Many residents, workers, and rescue and recovery workers exposed to these toxins have been diagnosed with various illnesses, including aerodigestive disorders such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); and mental health issues, including depression and anxiety disorder associated with the trauma of exposure to the attacks. To date, over 90 health conditions, including 60 different cancers, are believed to be a direct result of the toxic dust inhaled by those in the area.

The reauthorized James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which was passed in December 2015 is intended to provide sufficient funding and benefits to care for the first responders and survivors of the terrorist attacks throughout their lifetimes. The reauthorization extended the Zadroga Act’s programs: The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the Victims Compensation Fund (VCF). The WTC Health Program will continue to provide medical treatment and monitoring and has been extended for another 75 years to 2090 with $3.5 billion in funding to monitor and care for 73,000 responders and survivors. The VCF has been extended for another five years to 2021 with $4.6 billion in funding.

Meanwhile, the World Trade Center Health Registry Adolescent Wave 3 Survey, which was conducted in 2011-2012, compiled data on adolescent asthma that was diagnosed by a physician following the terrorist attacks. Data included the level of asthma control, which was based on modified National Asthma Education and Prevention Program criteria. The researchers also looked at probable mental health conditions and behavior issues. Also, parents reported healthcare needs and 9/11 exposures. A “logistic regression” approach was used to establish any connection between asthma, the level of asthma control, 9/11-exposure, mental health and behavioral problems, and unmet healthcare needs, according to the Pediatric Research report.