PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
To summarize the knowledge about the occupational lower airway diseases that seem related to exposures at the World Trade Center disaster site.
Those diseases have been characterized as irritant-induced asthma, chronic nonspecific bronchitis, chronic bronchiolitis/small airway disease, and aggravated preexistent chronic obstructive lung disease (most frequently chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but also asthma), with the expected overlapping features among them. One remarkable characteristic of the irritant-induced asthma observed among these workers was the slow onset of symptoms and long delay in clinical diagnoses.
Longitudinal studies suggest that both the incidence and the associated functional decline of these predominantly obstructive lung diseases stabilized several years ago, but longer follow-up is clearly necessary.
Departments of Preventive Medicine and Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA. Rafael.delaHoz@mssm.edu