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The accounts of events in the us that occurred on september 11 2001

Abstract Historically, the importance of public health has often been recognized during or as a result of major tragedy. The attacks that occurred in the United States in 2001 are no exception.

These events have raised awareness of our vulnerability and the need for emergency preparedness, the need for a flexible and sustainable public health infrastructure, and the importance of linkages between environmental exposures and health outcomes.

The authors encourage the public health community, along with policymakers, to develop a national environmental health tracking system that can improve our overall public health capacity and prepare us to investigate the critical issues of the day, whether they be emerging infectious diseases, terrorist attacks, or chronic illnesses.

What teachable moment can we glean from the emotional and physical devastation that the country faced? What insights can we as a public health community share with the nation from our unique perspective?

The events of 2001 have done more than heighten our individual and community state of awareness; they have raised the importance of public health and emergency preparedness to a new level.

An example is the case of a chemical spill of historic proportions that occurred at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, on December 3, 1984, leading to 2000 casualties and more than 100 000 injuries. In addition, it is predicted that the event will have long-term adverse effects, in terms of ill health and disability, on more than 50 000 people. Finally, this legislation led to the adoption of important health standards, including benefits for miners disabled as a result of black lung disease, thus improving safety for all miners.

In the same way, it is important that we use what we have learned from the September 11 disaster and the subsequent anthrax attacks to improve our public health policy, in preparation both for imminent disaster and, most important, for the everyday needs and services that public health must provide.

For example, tremendous strides have been made in understanding cancer and the factors that increase cancer risk. It is now known that most cancers as well as a variety of other chronic diseases are associated with external—or environmental—factors, including tobacco and alcohol use, nutrition, physical activity, and chemical exposures, with minor contributions from inherited genetic mutations.

The events of September 11 have elevated the connection between environment and health to a new level. In recognition of this important connection, funds have been directed to researchers and communities the accounts of events in the us that occurred on september 11 2001 conduct studies that will help us better understand overall health outcomes.

In addition, an array of studies are under way to evaluate health concerns related to being present in lower Manhattan on the day of the attacks, as well as to ascertain healthrelated effects on the residents of that area.

The anthrax attacks that occurred in October and November of 2001 provided similar wakeup calls. Although emergency response plans were in place in some areas, medical experts had previously misjudged the difficulty that doctors might face in diagnosing inhalation anthrax because each case involved such varied symptoms. For example, as a nation, we were unable to prepare an effective risk communication strategy after the anthrax events that could alleviate nationwide panic, and we were unprepared for the volume of laboratory samples that had to be processed.

The anthrax attacks exemplify the need for a comprehensive and effective public health infrastructure that has the ability to address any type of emergency. Before the attacks, in a March 2001 congressional hearing, CDC proposed a major national initiative linking partners at the local, state, and federal levels to address critical gaps in health care workforce capacity and competency, information and data systems, and organizational capacities of local and state health departments and laboratories.

In addition, the bill required the secretary of health and human services to establish a working group focused on preparedness and readiness for the medical and public health effects of a bioterrorist attack. Unfortunately, this legislation was not perceived as a national priority until the events of 2001.

  • The anthrax attacks exemplify the need for a comprehensive and effective public health infrastructure that has the ability to address any type of emergency;
  • The anthrax attacks exemplify the need for a comprehensive and effective public health infrastructure that has the ability to address any type of emergency;
  • What are the steps that we can take today to improve the health of both the present generation and future generations?
  • It works to protect the United States from terrorism;
  • A new cabinet-level department—the Department of Homeland Security—was created.

While investments such as those just described represent an important start, public health infrastructure needs a long-term commitment well beyond a narrow focus on terrorism. Although emergency public health has always been a public health activity, it is now a priority, one that must include preparing, planning, tracking, and responding to all public health threats. It is important to link our pressing public health preparedness needs with the growing national concern regarding rising rates of chronic diseases that may have links to the environments in which we live.

For example, Libby, a small town in northwestern Montana, has watched for decades as many of its residents have fallen ill with fatal respiratory diseases. Although decades typically pass before asbestos exposure ultimately results in chronic illness, Libby has already seen its fair share of mortality and morbidity, with more than 200 people dead from diseases connected to asbestos-tainted vermiculite and reports indicating that more than 400 additional residents are suffering from asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis, cancer, and emphysema.

In the past, the primary cause of morbidity and mortality was naturally occurring infectious diseases, but scientific advances in immunology and bacteriology, along with improvements in sanitation, have largely deterred these widespread epidemics and increased life expectancy significantly.

In 1900, life expectancy was 47 years on average; men can now expect to live to 74 years, and women to 80 years. As people live longer, they are affected by many other factors that may contribute to disease, including lifestyle factors such as dietary choices, exercise frequency, and tobacco use; environmental exposures, including those occurring at workplaces; and the natural aging process. These factors, either alone or in combination, contribute to an array of chronic diseases.

One hundred million Americans live with chronic illness each year. However, the United States does not currently have a method of tracking chronic diseases similar to that used to track the occurrence of infectious diseases.

Nor do we have sufficient mechanisms to evaluate the strength of the connection between the environment and chronic illness. When this network is fully operational, it will comprise 5 key components 9: With this comprehensive network in place, the public health system will be able to identify populations at risk and respond to outbreaks, clusters, and emerging threats, whether accidental or intentional; establish or refute relationships between environmental hazards and disease; guide intervention strategies, including lifestyle improvements; and track progress toward achieving a healthier nation.

Dual-function systems recognize that the same resources and skill sets are necessary whether the focus of investigation is an emerging or reemerging infectious disease, a terrorist attack, or a community cluster of chronic diseases.

Eventually the urgency will fade, and the public health system will be left to cope with its continued, everyday problems.

FAQ about 9/11

Efforts are under way in the both the Senate and the House of Representatives to enhance federal, state, and local public health systems, and the voice of the public health community is essential to ensuring the success of such efforts.

Significant deficiencies continue to exist in terms of technological resources, training of personnel, laboratory sophistication and upkeep, and the overall resources necessary to perform essential public health functions.

Now that there is a critical opportunity to rebuild the public health infrastructure, the challenge is to allocate the resources in such a way that systems are both flexible and sustainable. Systems must be flexible so that they collect and compile health data of all types. It is important that investments made now to strengthen the infrastructure are sustainable. While emergency and bioterrorism preparedness are important and noble causes, it is absolutely critical not to lose sight of the overall function and focus of public health to prevent disease and disability in as many people as possible.

There are numerous lessons that the public health community can learn from the events of 2001. Now is the time for us, the public health voices of America, to support and bring to fruition a strong and effective environmental health tracking network. We must ask ourselves: What are the steps that we can take today to improve the health of both the present generation and future generations? Notes All of the authors contributed equally to the writing of this article.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks

Peer Reviewed References 1. Bhopal disaster spurs U. Accessed January 16, 2002.

Bhopal disaster in India and trade aspects. Accessed June 2, 2003. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

What Happened on 9/11?

Environmental and heritable factors in the causation of cancer. N Engl J Med. The use of common genetic polymorphisms to enhance the epidemiologic study of environmental carcinogens. Impact of changes in transportation and commuting behaviors during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta on air quality and child asthma.

CDC report to Congress: Accessed November 8, 2002. CDC guidance for fiscal year 2002 supplement funds for public health preparedness and response for bioterrorism. Accessed December 5, 2002. Pew Environmental Health Commission. Health, United States, 2002. Accessed December 16, 2002. Persons with chronic conditions: