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Medical News & Perspectives |

Researchers Probe Health Consequences Following the World Trade Center Attack

Joan Stephenson, PhD
JAMA. 2002;288(10):1219-1221. doi:10.1001/jama.288.10.1219.
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As a somber nation observes the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, studies are under way to assess the health consequences to people exposed to airborne contaminants created from the destruction of the World Trade Center.

The most pervasive effect of the disaster is probably the psychological trauma that has affected people fleeing the destroyed buildings and those who participated in rescue and recovery efforts, as well as an extended network of family, friends, and coworkers (see p 1235 in the print journal and JAMA. 2001;286:1823-1825 http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/v286n15/ffull/jmn1017-1.html). But there also are continuing concerns about other possible health consequences resulting from exposure to harmful contaminants generated by the collapse of the twin towers (see p 1227 in the print journal).

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People involved in rescue, recovery, and clean-up efforts at the site of the World Trade Center attack had the most intense exposure to potentially hazardous substances in the thick clouds of smoke and dust at the disaster site. (Photo credit: Andrea Booher/FEMA News Photo)

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Health experts have raised concerns about asbestos-related health risks to workers hired to clean up the dust and rubble in the surrounding buildings—many of whom were not provided with respiratory tract protection. (Photo credit: Andrea Booher/FEMA News Photo)

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