Asthma Hits 9/11 Rescuers at 12 Times Normal Rate

Rates highest for those who arrived first, worked longest and didn't wear masks
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2007 5:05 AM CDT
USA. New York City. September 11, 2001. Rescue workers clean off on the West Side Highway. The 47-story Seven World Trade Center is seen surrounded by smoke in the center.   (Magnum Photos)
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(Newser) – Ground Zero rescue and cleanup workers are developing asthma at 12 times the normal rate, a New York City health report has found. Among 25,000 workers interviewed, 3.6% of them—926 firefighters, police officers, construction workers and volunteers—have been diagnosed with the respiratory illness since 2001. The normal rate would be 77 people.

Those who arrived in the first days after the attack, worked in the area for over 90 days, or didn't wear masks were much more likely to develop the disease. “These findings reflect the critical importance of getting appropriate respiratory protection to all workers as quickly as possible during a disaster," said the city's health commissioner.