Much has been written and legislated about the mysterious constellation of health problems that many first responders have experienced since 9/11. As more funds flow toward treatment and recovery for this cohort, studies are still coming out about the lasting aftereffects of their efforts.
First published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, one recent study found that many of these first responders require sinus surgery at a pace that outsrips their counterparts who weren’t at the scene. As one physycian put it:
“Approximately five years after the towers collapsed, we began seeing more and more sinusitis and that has continued unabated to this day,” said senior author Michael Weiden, MS, MD, associate professor of medicine and environmental medicine at New York University and a New York City Fire Department medical officer. “Something that happened 14 years ago still has direct medical consequences in firefighters whose immune system was turned on in a way that prevents it from being shut off.”
It is a sad consequence and a high price to pay for the heroism exhibited by many of the most important rescue personnel in New York City. And it is a telling indictment of air pollution generally, and how even limited exposure to certain contaminants can carry lifelong consequences.