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Post 9/11: High asthma rates among children in Chinatown, New York

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We reported increased rates of childhood asthma and worsening of preexisting asthma in Chinatown near the World Trade Center (WTC) after September 11, 2001. This conclusion was corroborated by the WTC Health Registry in 2003, which showed asthma prevalence in children <5 years old was higher than national estimates. In 2002, ethnic Chinese in New York City (NYC), based on 2000 U.S. Census addresses, were reported to have the lowest levels of asthma compared with other ethnic NYC neighborhoods. This study was designed to determine if Chinatown asthma rates are still higher than other ethnic neighborhoods and if rates decreased since 2003. We surveyed 353 parents of children at a Chinatown elementary school, conducted spirometry on 202 students, measured air pollution (PM2.5), and sampled dust from the floor of the school during 2008 for concentrations of dust-mite antigens, cat, rat, mouse, and cockroach. Asthma rates of 14.4% were reported in children who refused spirometry if they lived <1 mi from the WTC. The rate was 4.9% if they lived farther away. Twenty-nine percent of all students (4‐12 years old) who had spirometry showed a forced expiratory volume at 1 second (FEV1) of <80% predicted normal. Among children who were alive in 2001, 17.4% had an FEV1 of ≤75% predicted. The concentration of PM2.5 reached a high level of 40 g/m3. Indoor aeroallergen concentrations were negligible. Chinatown asthma rates are still higher than among other groups (29% versus the NYC reference rate of 13%). High air pollution levels may account for increased asthma incidence. It is possible that exposure to toxins on September 11, 2001 accentuated the effect of subsequent exposure to air pollution.
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Keywords: 9/11; Air pollution; Chinatown; Ground Zero; New York City; September 11, 2001; World Trade Center; asthma; children; pediatric

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Medicine, State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook School of Medicine, Stony Brook, New York, USA. [email protected]

Publication date: 01 November 2009

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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