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Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York City, New York City, New York
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  • Description:
    In January 2002, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request for a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, New York City Transit (MTA-NYCT) from representatives of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), Local 100. The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 726, later asked to be included in this HHE. The HHE request cited concerns about respiratory and mental health symptoms among MTA employees subsequent to the September 11 World Trade Center (WTC) attack. Employees believed exposure to the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks caused these symptoms. In response, NIOSH investigators conducted meetings between MTA-NYCT management and union representatives to prepare for a study to evaluate worker concerns. The initial site visit included an opening conference, a walk-through evaluation of three subway train stations near the WTC, and a closing conference. During the week of April 30, 2002, NIOSH investigators administered questionnaires to 269 MTA employees. This self-administered questionnaire contained questions about demographics, past medical history, smoking history, work duties and location, WTC-related activities performed, and symptoms occurring on and after September 11. Questionnaire data analysis showed that workers in the dust cloud at the time of the WTC collapse had significantly higher risk of persistent lower respiratory symptoms (OR=9.85; 95% CI: 2.24, 58.93), persistent mucous membrane symptoms (OR=4.91; 95% CI: 1.53, 16.22), depressive symptoms (OR=2.48; 95% CI: 1.12, 5.51), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms (OR=2.91; 95% CI: 1.003, 8.16) compared to those not exposed to the dust cloud. Based on these data, we conclude that clinical follow up for physical and psychological health conditions should be provided for affected public transportation workers subsequent to a catastrophic event. NIOSH sent an interim letter including preliminary results to MTA and union officials on December 17, 2002. This report describes our final results, analyses, conclusions, and recommendations. NIOSH investigators determined that NYC transit workers exposed to the dust cloud at the time of the September 11, 2001, WTC collapse had significantly higher risk of persistent lower respiratory and mucous membrane symptoms, and depressive and PTSD symptoms 7-1/2 months later compared to those not exposed to the dust cloud. Clinical follow up of affected transit workers for physical and psychological conditions should be continued through existing federal programs. Worker participation in these programs should be encouraged by MTA management. NIOSHTIC No. 20026637
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