9/11 Remains Wreaking Havoc on Asthma

Asthma incidence in Chinatown increased 6 fold after World Trade Center Tragedy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Along with the lingering memories of terror and loss from 9/11, a group of innocent children continue to suffer health consequences stemming from the fall of the World Trade Center.

Dr. Anthony Szema, MD, board certified pulmonologist, respiratory expert, and researcher practicing at Stony Brook Medical Park  tells dailyRx about the continuing lung problems children from Chinatown are experiencing 10 years after the fall. Those outside an 11 mile radius of the catastrophe don't appear to be affected.

"Within a 5 mile radius of the WTC, there is still a very high incidence asthma."

"The children living in Chinatown, the neighborhood closest to ground zero,have experienced a "double whammy" insult to their lungs," reports Dr. Szema. "If alive during 9/11, they experienced the initial insult and lingering smoke for another six months. As a result of 9/11, the Manhattan Bridge is the only toll-free way to leave lower Manhattan."

Dr. Szema and his colleagues stood there for one hour of observational research and counted 100 diesel trucks crossing in just that small amount of time. The school is right by the Manhattan bridge. These children, whose lung functions were already compromised by 9/11, still deal with air quality that is quite poor around the neighborhood because of the increased truck traffic.

Dr. Szema said, "In the year 2000, the very highest rate of asthma for an ethnic group in New York was the Hondurans, at 20 percent. Before 9/11, these Chinese children living in Chinatown had the lowest incidence of asthma-- approximately five percent. Now, with the effects of 9/11 still lingering, the Chinese children have the highest incidence of asthma in an ethnic group within New York City at 30 percent."

Dr. Szema also cites Dr. Frederica Perera's research "The Mothers and Children Study in New York City" to prove children in utero during the 9/11 attack are also more likely to have asthma. Dr. Perera's research finds that in utero exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), as a result of air pollution was associated with preterm birth, small head circumference, small size, developmental delays and respiratory issues in offspring. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 9, 2011
Last Updated:
August 21, 2012