A new study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reveals that the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks affected the health of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) resulting in more post-9/11 retirements than expected.
Led by David J. Prezant, MD, Chief Medical Officer, FDNY, researchers assessed a total of 7,763 retired firefighters between September 11, 1994, and September 10, 2008, comparing the total number of retirements and the number and proportion of accidental disability retirements 7 years before and 7 years after the WTC attack.
Results found that in the 7 years before 9/11, there were 3,261 retirements, 48% (1,571) of which were disability retirements. In the 7 years after 9/11, there were 4,502 retirements, 66% (2,970) were disability retirements, of which 47% (1,402) were associated with WTC-related injuries or illnesses. After 9/11, the increase in disability retirements was, for the most part, due to respiratory-related illnesses and resulted in approximately 10% of the workforce having to retire.
Pension benefits associated with WTC-related disability retirements have produced an increased financial burden of over $826 million on the FDNY pension system.
"It is clear that the WTC attack has had an enormous impact on the health of the FDNY workforce and, as a consequence, its pension system," Prezant concludes. "Human suffering cannot be measured in dollars alone but does serve as a reminder that recovery efforts, when rescue is no longer possible, should be carried out with special attention to the preservation of health for the responders."
- J.K. Niles, M.P. Webber, J. Gustave, R. Zeig-Owens, R. Lee, L. Glass, M.D. Weiden, K.J. Kelly, D.J. Prezant. The impact of the World Trade Center attack on FDNY firefighter retirement, disabilities, and pension benefits. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/ajim.20965
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