After the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York in September 2001, rescue workers were exposed to dust and debris, causing long-term lung damage for some. In a study comparing lung function before and after the incident, researchers have found biomarkers that could predict lung damage.
The researchers studied the health records of 327 New York City firefighters and rescue personnel. These included pulmonary function tests from before September 11, 2001, and from October 2001 to March 2008, as well as metabolic syndrome biomarkers.
The biomarkers predicting lung damage 6 years after September 2001, shown by abnormal forced expiratory volume (FEV1), included dyslipidemia, heart rate of over 66 beats per minute, and leptin levels of 10,300 pg/mL or higher. Increased levels of amylin were protective against reduced lung function.
The authors of the study were aware of its limitations--it included only a single cohort of rescue workers, and the biomarkers had sensitivity levels of 41%. However, the study highlights the importance of taking samples and carrying out tests as soon as is practical after a disaster. By following biomarkers like these, it could be possible to find out which victims are at risk of long-term illness.
Catching their breath: Finding biomarkers in COPD
Biomarker test could reduce lung cancer deaths