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Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Sep 1;170(5):640-9. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp165. Epub 2009 Jul 21.

Lack of association between estimated World Trade Center plume intensity and respiratory symptoms among New York City residents outside of Lower Manhattan.

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  • 1Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 170 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Researchers have reported adverse health effects among rescue/recovery workers and people living near the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The authors investigated the occurrence of respiratory symptoms among persons living outside of Lower Manhattan in areas affected by the World Trade Center particulate matter plume. Using a novel atmospheric dispersion model, they estimated relative cumulative plume intensity in areas surrounding the World Trade Center site over a 5-day period following the collapse of the buildings. Using data from a telephone survey of residents (n = 2,755) conducted approximately 6 months after the event, the authors evaluated associations between the estimated plume intensities at individual residence locations and self-reported respiratory symptoms among nonasthmatics, as well as symptoms and nonroutine care among asthmatics. Comparing persons at or above the 75th percentile of cumulative plume intensity with those below it, there was no statistically significant difference in self-reported new-onset wheezing/cough after September 11 (16.1% vs. 13.3%; adjusted odds ratio = 1.0, 95% confidence interval: 0.7, 1.7) and no worsening of asthma from before September 11 to the 4 weeks prior to the survey (13.9% vs. 16.6%; odds ratio = 1.0, 95% confidence interval: 0.3, 2.8). These results suggest that the plume was not strongly associated with respiratory symptoms outside of Lower Manhattan, within the limitations of this retrospective study.

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