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Trial of prophylactic inhaled steroids to prevent or reduce pulmonary function decline, pulmonary symptoms, and airway hyperreactivity in firefighters at the World Trade Center site.

Banauch-GI; Izbicki-G; Christodoulou-V; Weiden-MD; Webber-MP; Cohen-H; Gustave-J; Chavko-R; Aldrich-TK; Kelly-KJ; Prezant-DJ
Disaster Med Public Health Prep 2008 Mar; 2(1):33-39
Background: Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are the most effective anti-inflammatory treatment for asthmatics. This trial evaluated the effects of prophylactic ICS in firefighters exposed to the World Trade Center disaster. Methods: Inhaled budesonide via a dry powder inhaler (Pulmicort Turbuhaler, AstraZeneca, Wilmington, DE) was offered on-site to New York City firefighters between September 18 and 25, 2001. One to 2 years later, firefighters (n = 64) who completed 4 weeks of daily ICS treatment were evaluated and compared with an age- and exposure-matched comparison group (n = 72) who did not use ICS. Results: When spirometry results at the final visit were compared with those from the weeks following the 9/11 disaster, the treatment group had a greater increase in forced vital capacity (P = .009) and possibly a slower decline in forced expiratory volume at 1 second (P = .11), as well as a greater improvement in perceived well-being as assessed by the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (P < .01). There was no difference in airway hyperreactivity and no evidence of adverse effects from ICS. Conclusions: Because the potential for hazardous exposures is great at many disasters, disease prevention programs based on environmental controls and respiratory protection are warranted immediately. Our results suggest that, pending further study with a larger sample, prophylactic ICS should be considered, along with respiratory protection, to minimize possible lung insult.
Steroids; Bronchial-asthma; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Rescue-workers; Spirometry; Questionnaires; Preventive-medicine; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Hazards; Respiratory-protection; Environmental-control; Pulmonary-function; Pulmonary-system; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Pulmonary-disorders; Respiratory-system-disorders; Author Keywords: World Trade Center; inhaled corticosteroid; firefighters; pulmonary disease; preventive medicine
David J. Prezant, MD, FCCP, New York City Fire Department, Office of Medical Affairs (Room 4w-1), Brooklyn, NY 11201
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008243; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008242
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Performing Organization
New York City Fire Department
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division