The World Trade Center Health Program will host a forum on Saturday (October 21), where Lower Manhattan residents with questions about how their health may have been — or may yet be — impacted by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
(If you are unable to attend the Research to Care 9/11 Community Event in person, the morning session will be streamed live on the World Trade Center Health Program’s Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/WTCHealthProgram/. Please like and follow the page to view the live stream on October 21 at 9:00 a.m. ET)
“The World Trade Center Health Program is one of the benefit programs created by the James Zadroga Act,” explains Kimberly Flynn, the director of 9/11 Environmental Action (9/11EA), a non-profit advocacy group whose mission is to ensure that those who were affected physically or emotionally by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, get the specialized health care they need, and to which they are legally entitled.
“And ‘survivors’ is Zadroga language for residents, students, and area workers, whose health was affected by 9/11.” She adds that, “there is tremendous confusion in this community about the difference between the World Trade Center Health Program, the World Trade Center Health Registry, and the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund.” (This confusion can be largely resolved by browsing the organization’s website: 911ea.org)
Saturday’s event (for which admission is free) will be the World Trade Center Health Programs first “Research to Care” outreach to the Lower Manhattan community. Participants will be invited to hear what medical researchers have learned so far about 9/11 health effects, get advice about maintaining good health, and (perhaps most importantly) pose questions directly to researchers.
For people who were here on that morning, 16 years ago, or its aftermath, there are more than a few questions. A report released on last month, for example, found that children who lived nearby (and thus likely breathed in the ash and fumes from the collapsing towers) are showing early signs of risk for future heart disease. Researchers with the World Trade Center Health program found that children whose blood contained higher levels of chemicals known to be in World Trade Center dust also had elevated levels of artery-hardening fats in their blood. This is believed to be linked to exposure to various perfluoroalkyl substances — chemicals released into the air as electronics and furniture burned during the disaster. (Increased levels of these blood fats are known risk factors for heart disease and can, if left unchecked, lead to blood vessel blockages and heart attack.)
But even this news doesn’t have to be all bad. Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an associate professor at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, who led the study, notes that very early signs of cardiovascular risk observed in the children exposed to World Trade Center dust can likely be addressed by diet, weight control, and exercise.
Questions such as these will likely dominate the discussion at Saturday’s event, which will be held Farkas Auditorium of NYU Langone Medical Center (550 First Avenue, near 30th Street), starting at 8:00 am, and continuing through 4:00 pm.
Dr. Trasande and Dr. John Howard (the World Trade Center Health Program’s administrator) will both be speaking, along with more than a dozen other physicians and researchers. At 1:30 pm, Ms. Flynn will moderate a breakout session on the subject of Children’s Health. Among the panelists for this discussion will be Dr. Trasande.
“The health program was created so that survivors would have access to healthcare for their 9/11-related health problems,” reflects Ms. Flynn, “both physical health and mental health issues. The list of conditions eligible for treatment now includes more than 68 types of cancer.” She also urges survivors to contact 9/11EA (via email, at email@example.com, or telephone, at 212-330-7658) for advice or assistance in enrolling for the World Trade Center Health Program.
Anyone interested in attending Saturday’s “Research to Care” event is asked to register in advance online: wwwn.cdc.gov/researchgateway/r2c.
But such an R.S.V.P. is optional, and all interested parties are urged to attend, with or without registration.