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Wednesday, October 15, 2003, 12:00 p.m. EDT
NIEHS Issues Additional Awards to Continue 9/11 Response for Workers and Residents Following WTC Disaster
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has made supplemental awards totaling more than $9 million for FY 2003 to continue a public health and research response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. This will include both basic research and worker training for disaster preparedness.
The supplemental funding will maintain accelerated efforts, initiated on September 12, 2001, by NIEHS-supported investigators to carry out exposure assessment, epidemiological studies, clinical research and community outreach related to the health consequences of the attacks.
NIEHS Director Kenneth Olden said, "NIEHS grants are supporting efforts to address immediate and long-term worker and community health issues arising from the World Trade Center attacks. These studies and training programs aim to minimize any damage done by the 9/11 attack and prepare to address similar incidents should they occur in the future."
The following institutions are receiving supplemental research funds totaling $4 million: Columbia University, Johns-Hopkins University, New York University, University of Rochester (collaborating with NYU), University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (Rutgers), Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
These awards will continue to support an integrated, interdisciplinary research effort that has characterized human exposures resulting from destruction of the buildings, examined respiratory, psychological and other reported health problems associated with the exposures, and communicated findings to residents and workers through a variety of forums.
Sixteen institutions are receiving Worker Education and Training Program grants that include supplemental funds totaling $5 million. These include the Center to Protect Workers Rights, International Association of Fire Fighters, International Union of Operating Engineers, Laborers-AGC Education and Training Fund, National Puerto Rican Forum, Inc., and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
The purpose of these administrative supplements is to develop an integrated education and training approach that will address worker safety and immediate and long-term health concerns. These funds will support training of a nationwide cadre of environmental response workers to respond to future terrorist attacks, along with the creation of a national registry of trained construction personnel for immediate response to terrorist activities.
NIEHS responded to the needs of the New York City residents immediately after the 9/11 attack. Its Worker Education and Training Program delivered 3,000 respirators to the site and provided expert support to coordinate occupational health issues during recovery and cleanup. NIEHS-supported researchers were on-site collecting environmental and air samples the day after the disaster.
Since then the Institute has funded a multi-faceted array of studies on the health consequences of the attacks. NIEHS grantees have identified the composition and structure of dust particles from the collapse of the buildings, and have determined particle size and the degree of penetration into the airways of those who were exposed. Researchers have also created a public data base that includes both pre- and post-September 11 air quality data - the web address is http://wtc.hs.columbia.edu/wtc/.
Other NIEHS-funded researchers have conducted clinical and epidemiological studies to investigate respiratory abnormalities and post-traumatic stress syndrome in WTC-exposed populations such as firefighters, ironworkers and community residents.
Scientists have also identified the symptoms and duration of the "World Trade Center Cough," and determined that most dust particles from the attacks were small enough to penetrate into lung airways, producing caustic effects on the respiratory system. Other researchers are continuing to evaluate birth outcomes and conduct follow-up studies on the impact of prenatal hazardous exposures during the WTC attack.
Town meetings sponsored by NIEHS grantees and held in New York City and the surrounding areas have informed the general public about the study results that have been obtained, and what future studies are in the planning stages. The meetings have also given residents the opportunity to express their concerns and ask questions related to the health consequences of the September 11 attacks.