Children who breathed in the ash and fumes after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in New York on Sept. 11, 2001 have showed early signs of risk for future heart disease, according to a recent study.
After conducting blood tests of 308 children, 123 of whom may have come in direct contact with the dust on 9/11, researchers from NYU (New York University) Langone Health found that children with higher blood levels of the chemicals known to be in the dust had elevated levels of artery-hardening fats in their blood, said the report published on Thursday in the journal Environmental International.
"Since 9/11, we have focused a lot of attention on the psychological and mental fallout from witnessing the tragedy, but only now are the potential physical consequences of being within the disaster zone itself becoming clear," said the study's lead investigator and health epidemiologist Leonardo Trasande.
According to Trasande, who is an associate professor at NYU School of Medicine, raised fat levels in the blood are known risk factors for heart disease and if left unchecked can lead to blood vessel blockages and heart attack.
Fortunately, he added, these very early signs of cardiovascular risk observed in the children can generally be addressed by diet, weight control and exercise.
"Our study emphasizes the importance of monitoring the health consequences from 9/11 in children exposed to the dust, and offers hope that early intervention can alleviate some of the dangers to health posed by the disaster," he said.
On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed when four planes were hijacked and flown into New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.