In April of 2016, we reported that researchers at Winthrop University Hospital released a study that concluded that individuals exposed to World Trade Center dust were 15 times more likely to report neuropathic symptoms (nerve damage) than those not exposed. Based upon the strength of that evidence, the World Trade Center Health Program was petitioned to add peripheral neuropathy to its list of covered conditions, which it declined to do. In November of that year, an FDNY responder again petitioned the WTC Health Program to add peripheral neuropathy to its covered conditions list, relying in part on an updated version of the Winthrop University study finding that 56% of patients exposed to WTC Dust suffered from the condition. The WTC Health Program declined to update its list a second time, citing insufficient evidence. As of the date of publication, peripheral neuropathy remains absent from the WTC Health Program’s list of covered conditions.
Now, a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has found that 25% of workers aged 40 and over who were exposed to WTC site toxins reported peripheral neuropathy symptoms. Criteria for inclusion in the study were:
- Having arrived at the disaster site between the morning of September 11, 2001 and September 24, 2011
- Having been an active FDNY firefighter or EMS on 9/11
- Having taken at least one post-9/11 health questionnaire
- Being 40 years old at the time of their most recent questionnaire
These criteria yielded 9,239 firefighters and EMS. Of the 25% who exhibited symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, 30.6% were in the “indicated” group (those with a diagnosed history of conditions known to be linked to peripheral neuropathy such as diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disease), while 23.8% were in the “non-indicated” group (those without such conditions). The study also found that individuals with the highest exposure to the WTC disaster site (those arriving on the morning of September 11, 2001) were more likely to exhibit symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
It remains to be seen what action, if any, the WTC Health Program will take in light of these new findings.
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy occurs when the peripheral nerves (i.e., those outside the brain and spinal cord) are damaged as a result of traumatic injuries, infections, exposure to toxins, and diabetes. While peripheral neuropathy is not life-threatening, it can cause severe discomfort in its sufferers. Some of its symptoms include:
- Numbness, prickling, and tingling in the extremities
- Sharp, throbbing, or burning pain
- Sensitivity to touch
- Lack of coordination accompanied by falling
- Paralysis (if motor nerves are affected)
- Heat intolerance
- Excessive sweating or inability to sweat
- Bowel, bladder, and digestive problems
Contact the 9/11 Victims Lawyers at Pitta & Baione for More Information
If you suffer peripheral neuropathy or any other 9/11-related condition, you should speak to an attorney who can help you evaluate your options for compensation. To get started, please contact the 9/11 victims lawyers at Pitta & Baione by using our online contact form or by calling us at 844-WTC-COMP.