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Study Finds Heart Problems in Ground Zero Workers

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Yet another study has found evidence that years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Ground Zero first responders are still suffering heath problems. The study, which was funded by the Fraternal Order of Police of New York State, found evidence of heart problems in police officers who worked at Ground Zero.

While this study was the first to offer evidence that work at Ground Zero may lead to cardiovascular problems, the scientists who conducted it said it is not conclusive. The nature of law enforcement work – high stress, odd shifts, and long periods spent sitting in a patrol car – could also contribute to the problems seen in the study.

According to the study, police officers who worked at the World Trade Center site in the aftermath of the attacks had unusually high occurrences of abnormal left and right ventricular functioning. Such abnormal functioning hinders blood flow and can lead to heart disease later in life. Of 1,200 police officers tested, 53 percent had abnormal left ventricular functioning and 59 percent had problems with their right ventricle.

That’s unusual because the mean age of the officers in the study was only 49 – young for such problems to develop. In the general population, only about 7 percent of people in their 50s will exhibit such problems.

Since 2003, thousands of firefighters, police officers, construction workers and emergency responders have filed lawsuits against 90 defendants over these illnesses. They alleged the defendants, including New York City, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and construction companies, failed to adequately supervise and protect them with safety equipment.

Just last week, a settlement was announced in these lawsuits. If approved, the $657.5 million settlement will be divided among some 10,000 Ground Zero workers who say exposure to toxic dust at the destroyed World Trade Center injured their health. For the settlement to take affect, at least 95 percent of the plaintiffs must agree to its term.

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