Persistent Hearing Loss among World Trade Center Health Registry Residents, Passersby and Area Workers, 2006-2007

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Oct 12;16(20):3864. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16203864.


Background: Prior studies have found that rescue and recovery workers exposed to the 9/11 World Trade Center (WTC) disaster have evidence of increased persistent hearing and other ear-related problems. The potential association between WTC disaster exposures and post-9/11 persistent self-reported hearing problems or loss among non-rescue and recovery survivors has not been well studied.

Methods: We used responses to the World Trade Center Health Registry (Registry) enrollment survey (2003-2004) and first follow-up survey (2006-2007) to model the association between exposure to the dust cloud and persistent hearing loss (n = 22,741).

Results: The prevalence of post-9/11 persistent hearing loss among survivors was 2.2%. The adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of hearing loss for those who were in the dust cloud and unable to hear was 3.0 (95% CI: 2.2, 4.0). Survivors with persistent sinus problems, headaches, PTSD and chronic disease histories had an increased prevalence of reported hearing problems compared to those without symptoms or chronic problems.

Conclusions: In a longitudinal study, we observed an association between WTC-related exposures and post-9/11 self-reported hearing loss among disaster survivors.

Keywords: World Trade Center disaster; dust; hearing loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disasters / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*