May 31, 2013
The department’s Epidemiology Research Group received a two-year grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to study the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the health of World Trade Center (WTC) responders. Adam Gonzalez, PhD is the project’s principal investigator. Evelyn Bromet, PhD, Roman Kotov, PhD, Benjamin Luft, MD and Anthony Szema, MD are co-investigators.
The researchers will measure levels of psychological trauma and exposure to mold and dust experienced by WTC responders during and after the hurricane and assess their effects of these insults on respiratory and mental health. Because the investigators have been monitoring the physical and mental health of 9/11 responders annually for the past 8 years, they are in a unique position to compare respiratory functioning and psychological symptoms before and after the hurricane. They will also examine the possible role of PTSD in creating increased vulnerability to respiratory problems.
The NIEHS grant is an R21 grant intended to encourage exploratory research by supporting projects in their early conceptual stages. “The immediate goal of our research is to identify risk factors for mental and physical health problems among vulnerable populations in the wake of a disaster,” Dr. Gonzalez said, “but our ultimate aim is to use this information to develop strategies for prevention and intervention.”