Migraine Quiz

Long-Term Headaches May Arise from WTC Dust & Fumes

Longer-Term Exposure to World Trade Center Dust May Be Headache Risk

Research recently released by the American Academy of Neurology (and which will be presented at their annual meeting in April) presents the study findings of Sara Crystal, MD of the NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Crystal studied 765 people who were enrolled in the Bellevue Hospital World Trade Center Environmental Health Center seven years after the collapse of the World Trade Center.

These were people who did not suffer from headaches prior to 9/11. About 55% reported exposure to the initial WTC dust cloud. Those caught in the initial dust cloud were a bit more likely to report headaches than those not caught in the initial dust cloud. People who had headaches were also more likely to experience wheezing, breathlessness with exercise, post-nasal drip, sinus congestion, and reflux disease after 9/11.

Dr. Crystal noted the need for additional research into the effects of the dust and fumes associated with the WTC on 9/11, as well as further research "to understand the relationship between headaches, other physical symptoms, and mental health issues.” This study focuses on individuals who live and work in the WTC area of New York City, and not on the rescue workers who were temporarily exposed to the dust and fume cloud.

In a 2009 presentation before a US House of Representatives subcommittee, Dr. Joan Reibman, who was not involved in the headache study but who also works at the Bellevue Hospital WTC Environmental Health Center, reported that there are approximately 60,000 people living in lower Manhattan who are at risk of exposure to airborne toxins from the WTC. There are 15,000 children attending school in the area. There are also many college and university students. Dr. Reibman's work focuses on respiratory distress due to exposure to the dust & fumes associated with the World Trade Center collapse and subsequent clean-up efforts.