Most of the New York City firefighters and medics whose lungs were damaged by pulverized masonry and glass from the World Trade Center attacks are not improving as time goes by, according to a new study.
The results are based on breathing tests from nearly 11,000 firefighters who were at ground zero in first two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, when the dust cloud was thickest. Of the firefighters who didn't smoke, 13 percent were still scoring below normal up to seven years later, the study found.
That number was down from 18 percent who initially tested below normal after the attacks, according to researchers at the New York City Fire Department and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Among emergency medical technicians, the numbers were worse. Of the nearly 2,000 EMTs included in the analysis, 22 percent of the nonsmokers scored below normal on their most recent breathing test.
The research is in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.