20 Years Later: Research Highlights Ongoing Health Impacts of 9/11

The nation recently paused to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, and on those we lost on that tragic day. Even though two decades have passed since 9/11, that day, and the months afterward, continue to impact the physical and mental health of hundreds of thousands of people who rushed to help and whose daily lives exposed them to the dust cloud and toxins.

As director of NIOSH, I serve as administrator of the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, which provides expert medical monitoring and treatment to those directly affected by the 9/11 attacks in New York, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Currently, more than 112,000 responder and survivor members are enrolled in the WTC Health Program. Over 65,000 of our members are certified with at least one WTC-related health condition. Some of the most common conditions we’re seeing in people are chronic rhinosinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, many types of cancer, asthma, sleep apnea, post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, and depression.

To support our mission and provide the best possible care to members, the WTC Health Program funds research on physical and mental health conditions that may be related to the 9/11 attacks. Research aimed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of existing WTC-related health conditions is also funded. We also support the WTC Health Registry, run by the New York City Health Department, which has tracked and investigated the health of those affected by 9/11 since 2002. Through this work, the WTC Health Program highlights the extensive ongoing health impact on the exposed population. It also shows the importance of continued research funding for 9/11-related health care, especially as the affected population ages.

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