Mortality among fire department of the city of new york rescue and recovery workers exposed to the world trade center disaster, 2001–2017

Hilary L. Colbeth, Rachel Zeig-Owens, Charles B. Hall, Mayris P. Webber, Theresa M. Schwartz, David J. Prezant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The World Trade Center (WTC) attacks on 9/11/2001 have consistently been associated with elevated rates of physical and mental health morbidities, while evidence about mortality has been limited. We examined mortality between 9/12/2001 and 12/31/2017 among 15,431 WTC-exposed Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) firefighters and emergency medical service providers (EMS), specifically assessing associations between intensity of WTC-exposure and mortality risk. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) compared FDNY cohort mortality with the US general population using life table analysis. Deaths were identified via linkage to the National Death Index. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to identify associations between intensity of WTC-exposure and mortality, accounting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking history, and other relevant confounders. We identified 546 deaths and a lower than expected all-cause mortality rate (SMR = 0.22; 95% CI, 0.20–0.24). No cause-specific SMRs were meaningfully elevated. Mortality hazard ratios showed no association or linear trend with level of WTC-exposure. Our results provide evidence of the healthy worker effect, despite exposure to the World Trade Center. More follow-up time may be needed to assess the full impact of WTC-exposure on mortality in this occupational population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6266
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume17
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Keywords

  • Disaster epidemiology
  • Mortality
  • Occupational exposure
  • Rescue/recovery workers
  • World trade center

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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