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Trends in respiratory diagnoses and symptoms of firefighters exposed to the World Trade Center disaster: 2005-2010.

Weakley J; Webber MP; Gustave J; Kelly K; Cohen HW; Hall CB; Prezant DJ
Prev Med 2011 Dec; 53(6):364-369
OBJECTIVES: To compare the prevalence of self-reported respiratory diagnoses in World Trade Center-exposed Fire Department of New York City firefighters to the prevalence in demographically similar National Health Interview Survey participants by year; and, 2) to describe the prevalence of World Trade Center-related symptoms up to 9 years post-9/11. METHODS: We analyzed 45,988 questionnaires completed by 10,999 firefighters from 10/2/2001 to 9/11/2010. For comparison of diagnosis rates, we calculated 95% confidence intervals around yearly firefighter prevalence estimates and generated odds ratios and confidence intervals to compare the odds of diagnoses in firefighters to the National Health Interview Survey prevalence, by smoking status. RESULTS: Overall, World Trade Center-exposed firefighters had higher respiratory diagnosis rates than the National Health Interview Survey; Fire Department of New York City rates also varied less by smoking status. In 2009, bronchitis rates in firefighters aged 45-65 were 13.3 in smokers versus 13.1 in never-smokers while in the National Health Interview Survey, bronchitis rates were doubled for smokers: 4.3 vs. 2.1. In serial cross-sectional analyses, the prevalence of most symptoms stabilized by 2005, at approximately 10% for cough to approximately 48% for sinus. CONCLUSIONS: We found generally higher rates of respiratory diagnoses in World Trade Center-exposed firefighters compared to US males, regardless of smoking status. This underscores the impact of World Trade Center exposure and the need for continued monitoring and treatment of this population.
Surveillance-programs; Emergency-responders; Rescue-workers; Fire-fighters; Medical-screening; Health-care; Health-programs; Health-services; Health-surveys; Respiratory-system-disorders; Bronchial-asthma; Airway-obstruction; Environmental-contamination; Environmental-exposure; Epidemiology; Questionnaires; Demographic-characteristics; Smoking; Medical-monitoring; Author Keywords: Disaster medicine; Firefighters; Gastroesophageal reflux symptoms; GERS; National Health Interview Survey; NHIS; Rescue workers; Respiratory symptoms; Respiratory diagnoses; World Trade Center
Mayris P. Webber, New York City Fire Department, Bureau of Health Services, 9 Metrotech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Grant; Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-007350; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008243; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008242
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Preventive Medicine
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division