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Study Finds 9/11 Toxic Dust Linked to Heart Trouble Risk for Children

A recent study indicates that exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs, contained in dust particles released into the homes of New Yorkers by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, seems to be associated with abnormally high cholesterol levels in young adults who were children at the time of the terrorist attacks. PFASs have been linked to elevated cholesterol in other studies not related to 9/11. According to a report by CNN, based on a study published in Environment International, the study’s lead author, Dr. Leonardo Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine, says the findings of increased cholesterol “raise concerns about potential longer-term consequences, and that simply reinforces the need for ongoing monitoring of heart health in kids who were exposed to the disaster, and the need to maintain a healthy diet and physical activity.”

The effects of toxic WTC dust on the workers and residents of lower Manhattan are just beginning to be understood, as illnesses with long latency periods manifest in the population. On the date of the attack, September 11, 2001, there were about 25,000 minors living or attending school in the exposure zone. Previous studies have revealed high rates of asthma among those children as well as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of those children, now grown, are taking advantage of free health screenings available through the World Trade Center Health Program.

Dr. Trasande’s study found about a 20 percent greater level of PFASs among individuals who, as children, had been exposed to the toxic cloud or were exposed to the dust at home. The new study examined 123 New Yorkers born between September 11, 1993, and September 10, 2001, who qualified for the Registry, and compared them to 185 New Yorkers of the same age range who did not meet the Registry criteria for exposure. Among the individuals from the Registry, researchers found a “substantial increase in their cholesterol levels and in particular their LDL component, which is known to be a risk factor for later cardiovascular disease.”

The CNN article also noted that a study published in the journal Injury Epidemiology last July found that “acute exposure [to the dust cloud]…was associated with heart attack and also angina …and …respiratory problems, like asthma and other respiratory diseases.” Dr. Robert Brackbill, director of research for the World Trade Center Health Registry, also observed that “people who are injured in a disaster situation may have post-traumatic stress disorder, and PTSD is an established risk factor for heart disease.”

In other words, there may be several “associations” between elements of the 9/11 emergency and the presence of elevated cholesterol and subsequent heart disease. But whether the culprit is elevated levels of PFASs or PTSD, affected individuals should enroll in the WTC Health Program as soon as symptoms manifest, so they can get the health screenings they need and possible compensation.

Barasch & McGarry helps responders and others affected by 9/11 illnesses get the benefits they deserve. For a free consultation with a lawyer who understands your situation and the law, please contact us online or call 888-351-9421.

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