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September 1, 2011

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New York workers still suffering from the effects of 9/11

Thousands of people who provided assistance in the aftermath of the September 11 attack in New York are suffering significant ill-health effects, the US government has revealed in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of the atrocity.

According to an in-depth report on the BBC news website today (1 September), some 18,000 emergency workers, volunteers and local residents have reported respiratory problems such as asthma and sinusitis, as well as muscular and intestinal conditions.

Researchers found the dust to contain a high proportion of strongly alkaline particles, as well as asbestos and heavy metals like lead and mercury.

Dr John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), told the BBC that it is “plausible” that some people will die as a result of their exposure to the dust that blew across and settled on Lower Manhattan ten years ago.

However, the BBC reports that the question of whether the conditions associated with the dust have so far caused any deaths. In December 2010, the Zadroga Act – named after Detective James Zadroga, who died in 2006 of lung disease that was linked to World Trade Centre dust – was passed, authorising billions of dollars to be spent on monitoring, treatment and compensation for victims.

In 2006, the Mount Sinai Medical Centre issued a report based on its tests of around 10,000 of the estimated 40,000-strong response force working at Ground Zero between 2002 and 2004 and found that around 70 per cent had new, or substantially worse respiratory difficulties since working at the site.

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