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CNN: LC because of WTC on 9/11

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Study: Health effects linger for Ground Zero workers

NEW YORK, New York (CNN) -- Nearly three out of every four workers who participated in rescue and recovery efforts at the site of the collapsed World Trade Center towers have experienced some health problems, a federally funded study found.

The study, conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Mount Sinai Hospital, was based on the screenings of 3,500 workers at Ground Zero and the Staten Island landfill, where tons of debris was trucked after the attacks.

The preliminary results, based on 250 of the first screenings, suggest lingering health issues for a majority of the workers, and for many, a delayed diagnosis.

"Seventy-three percent of the sample had ear, nose and throat symptoms, or abnormal ear, nose and throat physical exam findings, or both," said Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of the screening program.

Herbert said 57 percent of those tested had lung problems and 20 percent had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

An estimated 35,000 workers -- who responded from all across the country after the worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil -- were exposed to concrete dust that may have contained asbestos, lead, fiberglass and other particles released when the twin towers collapsed after being hit by two hijacked aircraft. All are eligible for the free and confidential exams, which end in July.

"This particular screening program is very unique. Never before has an occupational medical screening program involving as many workers as are involved in this program been launched," said Dr. John Howard, director of NIOSH.

One of those who participated in the medical study is Frank Greer, a sheet metal worker, who said the privilege of serving in recovery efforts came at a huge price.

"I'm really worried about my kids and the future. I want to be there to take care of them," Greer said.

At present, those screened receive diagnostic evaluations and a referral, but no treatment reimbursement.

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