Sarcoidosis Impacting New Yorkers after 9/11

Sarcoidosis is a systemic disease that can affect any organ. “Common symptoms are vague, such as fatigue unchanged by sleep, lack of energy, weight loss, aches and pains, dry eyes, blurry vision, shortness of breath, a dry hacking cough or skin lesions.”  The disease can lead to long term, serious side effects including fatality.

These symptoms are consistent with the problems reported by many first responders and workers involved in the rescue and clean-up efforts at the World Trade Center.  According to a report published and discussed on an online medical information site, “We report here that the incidence of sarcoidosis among FDNY WTC rescue workers (firefighters and EMS workers) was significantly increased when compared to the years before WTC dust exposure.  This was especially true during the first 12 months after WTC dust exposure.”

The report goes on to note that  “The lay press has reported four case fatalities in non-FDNY WTC dust-exposed subjects due to interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis (cardiopulmonary involvement), and granulomatous pneumonitis.”  All of this medical language adds up to the fact that there were tens of thousands of workers and New York residents exposed to toxic air pollution following the 9/11 disaster.  With many pulmonary afflictions such as the lung cancer mesothelioma, the initial exposure to pollutants does not result in lethal diseases manifesting themselves until years later.

To many in the medical community, the impact of the pollution released by the collapse of the World Trade Center is just now beginning to come into focus.  It is impossible to define cause-and-effect with regard to World Trade Center diseases, but it is clear that there is a relationship – with potentially serious consequences for thousands of people.  The study report continues: “What could have caused the increased incidence of sarcoidosis among FDNY rescue workers, many within the first year after WTC dust exposure? More than 400 substances have been identified in airborne and settled samples of WTC dust.”

Medical statistics argue for a complex analysis of World Trade Center diseases.  Once again, the report says, “WTC dust-induced asthma and AHR could represent a separate disease resulting from massive exposure to dust constituents coexisting with WTC-[sarcoidosis].

“This hypothesis is supported by the fact that the predominant clinical syndrome in workers, volunteers, and residents participating in health monitoring programs following WTC exposure has been… inflammation involving the upper and lower respiratory tracts that results in WTC cough (new or worsening asthma, AHR, sinusitis, and/or gastroesophageal reflux). This syndrome has affected thousands of workers and volunteers.”

3 thoughts on “Sarcoidosis Impacting New Yorkers after 9/11

  1. I recently met a friend who had worked in the vicinity of WTC on day of and subsequent to 911 attacks. He advised me that he has been diagnosed with sarcoidosis within pat year or so and has been takingsteroids (prdnisone) on a daily basis since the diagnosis was made. He also advised that he may strat taking some type of chemotherapeutic agent (he did not know name) as an adjunct treatment modality to decrease the need f daily steroids which their inevitable sequelae.

    I would appreciate being provided with any information regarding the diagnosis of any non-fire/rescue personnel who worked in vicinity of WTC, how the diagnoses were made and the current state of the art treatment being rendered. I would also appreciate being advised as to any rights for compensation which might be available and the burden required to prove a causal link between the disease and the post-911 exposure.

    Many thanks for your assistance.

    Kevin O’Reilly

  2. I still am mix about sarcoidosis being caused by some yet unknown toxin.

    I am a ex vol-firefighter/EMT from calif with sarcoidosis and know of other firefighters that have it and none of us were at the WTC.

    I believe that sarcoidosis is not caused by a known toxin but by a common bactera fungus or other substance,
    Some of the firefighter i know with sarc were wild-lands firefighters and did not do houses or building very often.and very rarely ever went into a burning building.

    Its the high stress, long hours and the common materials we encounter that triggers the immune response causing sarcoidosis.

    i was lucky in that my sarcoidosis went dormant after i quit working as a vol firefighter. and did not have to start predisone so far

  3. Hi, I was scanning for any information connecting sarcoidosis and asbestos when I found your articles. I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis over 14 years ago and told I would not get much better. I had chronic low grade plurisy and walking was agony. I was only 28. I tried steroids for 3 wks (prednis) but they did not help. I was prescribed voltarol which I took for a year daily. I gradualy weened myself off voltarol onto bio-selenium and zinc and started to have various natural therapies inc. reflexology and herbalism amongst others. I started gentle exercise and built up my strength riding horses. I discovered this was non aerobic exercise so it was easier on my lungs. Since then i have been working with and exercising race horses, take no medication and dance my socks off jiving every week.

    However I do have to work at the balance and have had minor hiccups.

    I may have been exposed to asbestos at 7 yrs as my father who brought it home on his clothes from his plumbing job died of asbestosis. I was at home recovering from rheumatic fever after spending 4 months in hospital so I was weak.

    My 13 siblings may also have been exposed but perhaps they were stronger. Time will tell.

    I believe sarcoidosis may have many causes and triggers. My advice would be get to know your own body and what it responds well to and use any knowledge you can get your hands on to help yourself.

    Contact from anyone who thinks I can be of support to them in any way are welcome


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