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Eleven Years Later: Possible Signs of Kidney Dysfunction Found in First Responders

The events of September 11, 2001, cannot be forgotten, emotionally, mentally or physically. Although many lost their lives, loved ones and health over ten years ago, the toxic exposure on that deadly day refuses to become a memory. 

In November, Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine discussed results of a study of 183 first responders to the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks. The study evaluated the presence of the protein albumin in the blood of those exposed to the toxic plume at the WTC site. 

Findings of the study include the following: 

  • Detected by a simple blood test, elevated levels of albumin can indicate kidney impairment. Normal kidneys resolve waste and protein products separately. Waste products are excreted with urine. When a urine test detects protein or increasing levels of protein, the kidneys are failing to properly process proteins, allowing them to spill into the urine. 
  • The dust cloud at the WTC site contained carcinogenic and other types of particulates. The response of the body to high levels of pollution could cause renal damage leading to kidney dysfunction. 
  • Considering the time since the attack, this study suggests some WTC injuries may not become apparent for well over a decade after exposure. 

Dr. McLaughlin notes albumin was detected in the urine of those with high exposure to the dust cloud initially and who remained exposed approximately 90 days into the clean-up operation. 

First responders should speak with their physicians about protein assessment and speak with legal counsel about preservation of a claim in the event of future kidney or another disorder caused by exposure at a WTC site. 

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