Children exposed to the “dust” stirred up after two hijacked passenger planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, show signs of heart disease risk, according to a new report.
The cloud of particles that resembled dust, caused by the collapse of the twin towers, swept across Manhattan at the time and contained dangerous chemicals and carcinogens including perfluoroalkyl substances, which is used to make products stain-resistant or waterproof, reports CNN.
According to an Environment International study published on Thursday, scientists believe exposure to those substances can lead to abnormally high cholesterol levels in teens and young adults, which can be a risk factor of heart disease.
Researchers, from NYU Langone Health, examined 308 children, about half of whom came into direct contact with the debris on 9/11, according to the DailyNews.
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Associate professor at NYU School of Medicine and the study’s lead investigator, Leonardo Trasande, told the publication that previous studies on the topic were “too narrow.”
“Kids are the least well-studied population in regard to the World Trade Center disaster. The cardiovascular consequences described here were overdue in being assessed and evaluated,” he adds. “Since 9/11, we have focused a lot of attention on the psychological and mental fallout from witnessing the tragedy, only now are the potential physical consequences of being within the disaster zone itself becoming clear.”
Trasande says this is the first study to link long-term cardiovascular health risks in children from toxic chemical exposure due to the collapse of the twin towers.
“Our study emphasizes the importance of monitoring the health consequences from 9/11 in children exposed to the dust,” he told the DailyNews. “And offers hope that early intervention can alleviate some of the dangers to health posed by the disaster.”