WTC rescue/recovery workers have health woes
Author: Larry Fine
Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of Mount Sinai Medical Center's World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program, said this week the results were "alarming."
Of 250 people examined who had worked at Ground Zero or the Staten Island landfill where World Trade Center material was sorted, 57 percent suffered from lung disease, 52 percent had mental health symptoms and 52 percent showed ear, nose or throat problems, hospital officials said.
The sample was randomly taken from the first 500 workers to participate in the program.
More than 3,500 rescue and recovery workers, out of some 40,000 who responded to the hijack attacks on the World Trade Center, have been screened as part of the one-year program, which is scheduled to end in July 2003 and include 9,000 participants.
Dr. Stephen Levin, medical director of the Mount Sinai-J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine and co-director of the screening program, said the examinations were crucial for the long-term health of the workers.
"It's important to find the conditions that they will develop early enough so that treatment makes a difference," said Levin, working in cooperation with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Heath, a division of the Centers for Disease Control.
The $12 million in initial federal funding for the program was championed by Sen. Hillary Clinton, a New York Democrat who this week urged that an additional $90 million in federal funds be provided to screen more workers and provide ongoing treatment.
"This is an American priority to take care of these brave men and women," said Clinton.