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Case report: lung disease in World Trade Center responders exposed to dust and smoke: carbon nanotubes found in the lungs of World Trade Center patients and dust samples.

Wu-M; Gordon-RE; Herbert-R; Padilla-M; Moline-J; Mendelson-D; Litle-V; Travis-WD; Gil-J
Environ Health Perspect 2010 Apr; 118(4):499-504
CONTEXT: After the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) on 11 September 2001, a dense cloud of dust containing high levels of airborne pollutants covered Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, New York. Between 60,000 and 70,000 responders were exposed. Many reported adverse health effects. CASE PRESENTATION: In this report we describe clinical, pathologic, and mineralogic findings in seven previously healthy responders who were exposed to WTC dust on either 11 September or 12 September 2001, who developed severe respiratory impairment or unexplained radiologic findings and underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic surgical lung biopsy procedures at Mount Sinai Medical Center. WTC dust samples were also examined. We found that three of the seven responders had severe or moderate restrictive disease clinically. Histopathology showed interstitial lung disease consistent with small airways disease, bronchiolocentric parenchymal disease, and nonnecrotizing granulomatous condition. Tissue mineralogic analyses showed variable amounts of sheets of aluminum and magnesium silicates, chrysotile asbestos, calcium phosphate, and calcium sulfate. Small shards of glass containing mostly silica and magnesium were also found. Carbon nanotubes (CNT) of various sizes and lengths were noted. CNT were also identified in four of seven WTC dust samples. DISCUSSION: These findings confirm the previously reported association between WTC dust exposure and bronchiolar and interstitial lung disease. Long-term monitoring of responders will be needed to elucidate the full extent of this problem. The finding of CNT in both WTC dust and lung tissues is unexpected and requires further study.
Airway-obstruction; Airway-resistance; Clinical-diagnosis; Dust-analysis; Dust-exposure; Dust-inhalation; Dust-measurement; Dust-particles; Dusts; Epidemiology; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-methods; Health-care-personnel; Health-hazards; Health-programs; Health-services; Inhalation-studies; Lung-disorders; Lung-irritants; Medical-monitoring; Medical-research; Medical-treatment; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Particle-aerodynamics; Particulate-dust; Pulmonary-congestion; Pulmonary-disorders; Pulmonary-system; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Respiratory-function-tests; Respiratory-hypersensitivity; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Work-environment; Worker-health; Work-operations; Author Keywords: bronchiolitis; carbon nanotubes; interstitial lung disease; small airway disease; WTC
M. Wu, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Box 1194, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029
7439-95-4; 7631-86-9; 1332-21-4; 7440-70-2
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008225; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008232
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Source Name
Environmental Health Perspectives
Performing Organization
Mount Sinai School of Medicine of New York University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division