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.