The evolving spectrum of pulmonary disease in responders to the World Trade Center tragedy

Tee L. Guidotti, David Prezant, Rafael E. De La Hoz, Albert Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


On September 11, 2001, events at the World Trade Center (WTC) exposed residents of New York City to WTC dust and products of combustion and pyrolysis. The majority of WTC-exposed fire department rescue workers experienced a substantial decline in airflow over the first 12 months post-9/11, in addition to the normal age-related decline that affected all responders, followed by a persistent plateau in pulmonary function in the 6 years thereafter. The spectrum of the resulting pulmonary diseases consists of chronic inflammation, characterized by airflow obstruction, and expressing itself in different ways in large and small airways. These conditions include irritant induced asthma, non-specific chronic bronchitis, aggravated pre-existing obstructive lung disease (asthma or COPD), and bronchiolitis. Conditions concomitant with airways obstruction, particularly chronic rhinosinusitis and upper airway disease, and gastroesophageal reflux, have been prominent in this population. Less common have been reports of sarcoidosis or interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary fibrosis and bronchiolitis are generally characterized by long latency, relatively slow progression, and a silent period with respect to pulmonary function during its evolution. For these reasons, the incidence of these outcomes may be underestimated and may increase over time. The spectrum of chronic obstructive airways disease is broad in this population and may importantly include involvement at the bronchiolar level, manifested as small airways disease. Protocols that go beyond conventional screening pulmonary function testing and imaging may be necessary to identify these diseases in order to understand the underlying pathologic processes so that treatment can be most effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-660
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Bronchiolitis obliterans
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis
  • Dust
  • FEV
  • Inhalation toxicology
  • Interaction
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Prognosis
  • Respiratory impairment
  • Starling resistor
  • Vital capacity
  • World Trade Center


Dive into the research topics of 'The evolving spectrum of pulmonary disease in responders to the World Trade Center tragedy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this