Firefighters and others who were exposed to dangerous particulate matter at the World Trade Center site should also be aware that certain medical conditions associated with heart disease, such as abdominal obesity and high blood pressure, can increase the likelihood of developing lung problems.
What doctors call “metabolic syndrome” has long been associated with an increased risk of cardiac problems, strokes and type 2 diabetes. However, the large group of firefighters exposed to toxins during the Ground Zero cleanup has given researchers the ability to make a connection to pulmonary problems. If you or someone you love spent time in Lower Manhattan in the days after 9/11, you should know about the findings of a study conducted by the NYU School of Medicine, including:
- Effects of obesity — Firefighters whose Body Mass Index was classified as “obese” had a 33 percent greater chance of contracting lung disease. It is important to remember that BMI is strictly a measure of weight and height, so someone who might not necessarily seem out of shape, such as a heavily muscled man, might still fall within this category.
- Time at the Ground Zero site —Individuals who were on the scene during the morning of September 11 have a 30 percent higher risk of pulmonary problems than workers who arrived on succeeding days. For first responders reporting on the afternoon of 9/11, the danger is 19 percent higher.
- High blood pressure — A diastolic blood pressure reading above the healthy level was associated with a 26 percent increase in lung disorders among the firefighters tested. This highlights the importance of regular testing, lifestyle changes and appropriate treatment when necessary.
As obesity rises among the general population and air quality continues to be substandard in many areas, the results of the NYU study have consequences for a wide range of people. However, World Trade Center first responders should be especially careful and explore the medical monitoring and treatment programs available to them.
Barasch & McGarry represents first responders and others affected by the air quality in Lower Manhattan following the 9/11 attack. In a free initial consultation, we can review your situation and advise you of your options. Please call 888-351-9421 or contact us online to make an appointment.