9/11 Toxic Exposures and Pediatric Asthma

Among the many health concerns that have arisen since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there are concerns about asthma diagnosed in children and teenagers who were exposed to toxins during and following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

A September 2016 article in Pediatric Research reviewed both asthma and asthma control in exposed adolescents and teens for ten to 11 years after the attacks.

The World Trade Center Health Registry adolescent Wave 3 survey (2011-2012) collected data on asthma diagnosed by after September 11, 2001; the extent of asthma control based on modified National Asthma Education and Prevention Program criteria; probable mental health conditions, and behavior problems. Parents reported their children’s health care needs and 9/11 exposures. A logistic regression approach was used to determine the ties between asthma, the level of asthma control, 9/11-exposure, mental health and behavioral problems, and unmet health care needs, according to the article.

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

In their study titled “Asthma Control in Adolescents 10 to 11 Years after Exposure to the World Trade Center Disaster,” the researchers concluded that comprehensive care of post-9/11 asthma in adolescents should include management of related mental health condition. Children do not age out of statute of limitation protection. If a child was 10 years old at the time of the attacks and developed asthma as a result 9/11 toxic exposures, under most circumstances, that individual, now 25 years old, has not aged out of compensation.

The researchers determined that 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); irritants; toxins; and carcinogens. Many first responders, rescue and recovery workers, are area residents exposed to these toxins have been diagnosed with various illnesses, including 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. Over 90 health conditions, including 60 types of cancer, are believed to be a direct result of toxic exposures.

The researchers found that poorly controlled asthma was significantly associated with lower household income and with having unmet health care needs and having tested positive for at least one mental health condition. The impact of having at least one mental health condition on the level of asthma control was substantially greater in females than in males. The researchers conclude that comprehensive care of post-9/11 asthma in adolescents should include management of mental health-related comorbidities (the simultaneous presence of two diseases or conditions).





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