"The effects of 9/11 are still being felt today by all New Yorkers and all Americans," City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said at news conference. "Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life were in the vicinity of the twin towers when they collapsed, and were exposed to a combination of smoke, dust and debris."
The World Trade Center Health Registry will measure long- and short-term health consequences for the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people exposed to hazardous materials, such as asbestos, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Firefighters and other workers have complained of respiratory and other problems after prolonged exposure to air and contaminants in the 16-acre cleanup area.
"The registry is a tool for giving us health data that could guide how we respond to this kind of disaster for generations to come," said Henry Falk, director of the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Environmental Health.
The registry was launched with $20 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Officials will monitor the health of those in the registry for the next 20 years. They are seeking to track people who worked or lived in the vicinity of the trade center, were in a subway nearby when the towers collapsed, or worked in the recovery effort.
Falk said people should enroll even if they feel they're healthy by calling either 311 or 1-866-NYC-WTCR, or going on the registry Web site.
By Donna de la Cruz