Post-9/11/2001 lung function trajectories by sex and race in World Trade Center-exposed New York City emergency medical service workers

Madeline Vossbrinck, Rachel Zeig-Owens, Charles B. Hall, Theresa Schwartz, William Moir, Mayris P. Webber, Hillel W. Cohen, Anna Nolan, Michael D. Weiden, Vasilios Christodoulou, Kerry J. Kelly, Thomas K. Aldrich, David J. Prezant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether lung function trajectories after 9/11/2001 (9/11) differed by sex or race/ethnicity in World Trade Center-exposed Fire Department of the City of New York emergency medical service (EMS) workers. Method: Serial cross-sectional study of pulmonary function tests (PFTs) taken between 9/11 and 9/10/2015. We used data from routine PFTs (forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) and FEV1% predicted), conducted at 12-18 month intervals. FEV1 and FEV1% predicted were assessed over time, stratified by sex, and race/ethnicity. We also assessed FEV1 and FEV1% predicted in current, former and never-smokers. Results: Among 1817 EMS workers, 334 (18.4%) were women, 979 (53.9%) self-identified as white and 939 (51.6%) were never-smokers. The median follow-up was 13.1 years (IQR 10.5-13.6), and the median number of PFTs per person was 11 (IQR 7-13). After large declines associated with 9/11, there was no discernible recovery in lung function. In analyses limited to never-smokers, the trajectory of decline in adjusted FEV1 and FEV1% predicted was relatively parallel for men and women in the 3 racial/ethnic groups. Similarly, small differences in FEV1 annual decline between groups were not clinically meaningful. Analyses including ever-smokers were essentially the same. Conclusions: 14 years after 9/11, most EMS workers continued to demonstrate a lack of lung function recovery. The trajectories of lung function decline, however, were parallel by sex and by race/ethnicity. These findings support the use of routine, serial measures of lung function over time in first responders and demonstrate no sex or racial sensitivity to exposure-related lung function decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-203
Number of pages4
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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