“It is very, very convincing that 9/11 caused the drop,” Prezant said. Also, it appears to be a persistent drop, not a recovering drop. “This is persistent, real, and important,” he said. “There are always the naysayers who blame cigarette smoke,” he added, but says the program has data showing the effect on both firefighters who smoke and who don’t. “This shows this isn’t due to their fault,” he said.
“A substantial proportion of World Trade Center rescue workers have persistently abnormal lung function,” Prezant said. Large decreases in lung function are seen in the first year, greater for firefighters than EMS, with little or no recovery.
The conditions need to be monitored and treated, he said. For almost everyone the physiology is obstructive as opposed to restrictive, and while it is not curable, it is treatable and controllable, Prezant said.
The program also has thousands with asthma they can treat; 10 with pulmonary fibrosis; and about 30 with sarcoidosis.
For anyone outside FDNY who believes they were affected, Prezant advised seeing the NIOSH website’s World Trade Center Health Program at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/wtc/.