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Toxic airborne chemicals unleashed following the attacks of September 11, 2001 have resulted in decreased olfactive abilities among World Trade Center (WTC) rescue, recovery and demolition workers, according to new research from the Monell Center (Philadelphia).
“The nose performs many sensory functions that are critical for human health and safety,” said Pamela Dalton, 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.”
Among 102 survey individuals who worked or volunteered at the WTC site on on the day of the attacks and/or the weeks that followed, 22% had a diminished ability to detect odors and nearly 75% had an impaired ability to detect irritants.
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