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Persistent Post-9/11 Hearing Problems Among World Trade Center Health Registry Rescue and Recovery Workers, 2001 to 2007

Stein, Cheryl R. PhD; Lee, David J. PhD; Flamme, Gregory A. PhD; Cone, James E. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: December 2017 - Volume 59 - Issue 12 - p 1229–1234
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001171
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the association between 9/11-related exposures and self-reported hearing problems among 16,579 rescue/recovery workers in the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Registry.

Methods: Using Registry Waves 1 (2003 to 2004) and 2 (2006 to 2007), we modeled the association between two metrics of 9/11-related exposures and hearing difficulties.

Results: The prevalence of incident, persistent hearing problems was 4.4%. In a fully adjusted model, workers with higher environmental hazards scores were twice as likely (interquartile range OR 2.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.8, 2.5) to report hearing problems. Based on the same fully adjusted model, workers unable to hear in the dust cloud were 2.3 (95% CI 1.8, 3.0) times more likely to report hearing problems as compared with workers not in the dust cloud.

Conclusions: We observed a consistent association between WTC-related exposures and self-reported hearing problems among rescue/recovery workers.

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World Trade Center Health Registry, Division of Epidemiology, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, New York (Dr Stein, Dr Cone); Department of Public Health Sciences, Ophthalmology, and Otolaryngology, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida (Dr Lee); Stephenson and Stephenson Research and Consulting (SASRAC), Forest Grove, Oregon (Dr Flamme).

Address correspondence to: Cheryl R. Stein, PhD, World Trade Center Health Registry, Division of Epidemiology, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 125 Worth Street, New York, NY 10013 (

Funding sources: This publication was supported by Cooperative Agreement Numbers 2U50/OH009739 and 5U50/OH009739 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); U50/ATU272750 from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), CDC, which included support from the National Center for Environmental Health, CDC; and by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIOSH, CDC, or the Department of Health and Human Services.

Conflicts of Interest: None declared

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Copyright © 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine