New research from the Monell Center and collaborating institutions reports that workers exposed to the complex mixture of toxic airborne chemicals following the 9/11 disaster had a decreased ability to detect odors and irritants two years after the exposure.
"The nose performs many sensory functions that are critical for human health and safety," said lead author Pamela Dalton, PhD, MPH, an environmental psychologist at Monell. "The sensory system that detects irritants is the first line of defense to protect the lungs against airborne toxic chemicals. The loss of the ability of the nose to respond to a strong irritant means that the reflexes that protect the lungs from toxic exposures will not be triggered."
Individuals involved in rescue, recovery, demolition and clean-up at the World Trade Center (WTC) were exposed to a complex mixture of smoke, dust, fumes, and gases. In the study, reported online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, Dalton and collaborators studied 102 individuals who worked or volunteered at the WTC site on 9/11 and during the days and weeks afterward to determine whether this exposure affected their ability to detect odors and irritants.
Forty-four percent of the workers reported being in lower Manhattan on 9/11 and 97 percent worked on the site during the week after the buildings' collapse.
Two years after the exposure, the WTC workers had decreased sensitivity to odors and irritants as compared to similar workers with no WTC exposure. Twenty-two percent of the WTC workers had a diminished ability to detect odors and nearly 75 percent had an impaired ability to detect irritants.
Workers exposed to the dust cloud immediately after the buildings' collapse had the most extreme loss of sensitivity to irritants, with an almost complete inability to detect the nasal irritant used in the study.
Almost none of the individuals tested recognized that their ability to detect odors and irritants was compromised.
Health screenings of WTC workers had documented the effects of inhaled exposure on the lungs and respiratory function, but little was known about the impact on sensory systems of the nose. These sensory systems include the olfactory system, which detects odors, and the somatosensory system, responsible for detecting irritants, chemicals that cause pain, tingling, burning, stinging, or prickling.
The inability to detect irritants and odors is a critical safety concern, especially since the workers were not aware of their impairment.
"Odors also serve a protective function, such as the ability to identify smoke from a fire, leaking gas, or spoiled food," said Dalton.
The authors suggest that the ability to smell and detect irritants should be evaluated regularly in WTC responders and other workers having pollutant exposures.
Future studies will attempt to follow the workers to assess recovery and identify factors associated with more complete recovery.
Also contributing to the study were Michele Gould, Ryan McDermott, Tamika Wilson, Christopher Maute, Mehmet Ozdener, and Kai Zhao from Monell; Richard Opiekun from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services; Edward Emmett from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Peter Lees from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; and Robin Herbert and Jacqueline Moline from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The study was funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Monell advances scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the programmatic areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication.
Leslie Stein | EurekAlert!
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering