16 Years After 9/11 Attacks Health Issues Continue to Surface



It has been 16 years since terrorist flew planes into the World Trade Center (WTC) Twin Towers. New health issues resulting from the dust that permeated New York City are surfacing in those who were younger than 18 years old at the time of the disaster.

There were approximately 25,000 children residing in or attending school in Manhatten on Sept. 11, 2001, who were affected by perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and other toxic substances. These chemicals are typically used on materials to make them waterproof, stain-resistant, or non-stick. With the fires burning furniture and electronics their debris became part of the noxious dust. As a result, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) designed a method for tracking survivors and any related medical diagnosis.

The 9/11 Health Registry, also referred to as WTCHR, details the area where the chemicals were in greatest concentration. The hot zone boundary map is explained in terms of, “if you were here.” The following groups were exposed to the noxious chemical on Sept. 11, 2001:

  • Survivors who were on the subway south of Chambers Street, in the WTC, or on the sidewalk;
  • Those working or enrolled in pre-K-12 schools or daycare facilities south of Canal Street on 9/11, or those living in the same area;
  • Anyone who worked one shift or were involved in activities at ground zero between Sept. 11, 2001, and June 30, 2002. Jobs such as, clean up, rescue or recovery on the site, at WTC Operations on Staten Island or on any barge that transported debris between these sites.

Since the disaster, studies of youths from the hot zone show a significant increase in asthma cases as compared to the national averages. Other health-related anomalies were seen in survivors.

A new study was released on Sept. 8, 2017, by Environment International. Results indicate that the chemicals, which increased the rate of breathing problems, have exposed another health threat; heart disease. Researchers recruited individuals born between Sept. 11, 1993, and Sept. 1o, 2001. The volunteers came from two geographical-based demographics. There were 123 who had registered with the WTCHR and 185 who were not.

In order to obtain relative results, each individual in the control group was matched with another from the opposite. The factors included race, sex, ethnicity, date of birth, and income. Researchers reported:

We assessed exposure to PFASs, as measured by serum levels and association with cardiometabolic profile as measured by arterial wall stiffness, body mass index, insulin resistance, fasting total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides.

Overall, the results indicated the survivors, ages 16-24, have a higher than average chance of developing early heart disease. Medical professionals will monitor these young adults and make their findings public. It appears that after 16 years, the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the WTC continues to cause shock waves, and, in the case of its survivors, through their health.

By Cathy Milne


NYC 9/11 Health: FAQs; Who was eligible?
Environment International: Serum perfluoroalkyl substances and cardiometabolic consequences in adolescents exposed to the World Trade Center disaster and a matched comparison group
CNN: 9/11 dust tied to heart risk in children, study says
Healthline: Children Who Survived September 11 Attacks May Face Heart Risks
United Press International: Early signs of heart disease risk found in children exposed to 9/11 dust

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Malcolm Murdoch’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


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