9/11 police responders maintain lung function: study

June 29, 2011

New York – Ninety-five percent of police officers in the New York Police Department Emergency Services Unit who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks showed no long-term decrease in lung function, according to an NYPD study.

Researchers examined lung function of 206 World Trade Center responders and found no change, except for the normal decrease that comes with age. Unlike WTC firefighters, ESU officers did not have a history of exposure to respiratory hazards, according to a press release from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which published the study.

However, 5 percent of the police officers showed mild lung dysfunction. The condition was more common among officers who had respiratory problems, were present when the towers collapsed or worked long hours at the site. Smokers and officers who did not wear respiratory protection also had greater changes in lung function.

The research appeared in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.