Doctors treating ground zero related illnesses in workers from the 9-11 site testified to Congress regarding the outlook for the workers, according to a story in the Washington Post. One doctor testified that “respiratory illness, psychological distress, and financial devastation have become a new way of life for many” of the workers. An OSHA employee testified that workers arriving at the site in the first 48 hours after the attack received an “incredible assault” on their systems, from all of the toxins in the air.
A study presented at the hearing shows 70% of the workers had new or worsened respiratory symptoms after exposure to debris at the site. The study found mental health conditions, including PTSD and depression, in 36% of the workers studied, lower respiratory problems in 40% of the workers studied, and upper respiratory conditions in 59% of the workers studied.
It is unknown how long these types of problems will last in the affected workers and whether new problems, such as cancers related to the exposures, will emerge. Congress has not yet set up a program for long term health care and health screening for these workers. It would be the right thing to do.