Thousands of people lost their lives September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers came crashing down, and aftermath of the horrible terror attack may have impacted some unlikely victims.
According to a study conducted by researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital, babies who were near Ground Zero on 9/11 — even those who were still inside their mothers — may have absorbed some toxic materials from the fallen towers.
And the answer is in their baby teeth.
Doctors at Mount Sinai, including Dr. Roberto Lucchini, started to collect baby teeth last year in order to conduct a study about the possible impact.
They wanted to gather data about the health risks that the babies, who are now teens, may face from the disaster in the future. Lucchini told Downtown Express:
“The teeth can give you some information about the intensity and type of exposure. We can detect what chemicals or exposure happened. And this is something we don’t really have at the moment.”
And now some of the results are in.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
According to Newsweek, the Mount Sinai team tested baby teeth from people who were in lower Manhattan when the towers came down, or whose mothers, pregnant with them at the time, were in that area.
Lucie Lagodich was just 11 months old when the towers crashed down near her Manhattan home. She is now 16 and has donated her teeth to the study.
Her teeth, along with about half the other children’s teeth, showed a disturbing pattern.Robert Giroux/Getty Images
According to Lucchini, these baby teeth contained high levels of lead and tin that may have come from dust from the fallen buildings. He told Newsweek:
“We didn’t know what we’d find, but the lead and tin, these two elements, turned up as a strong signal in the data.”
That means that the children who were affected by the World Trade Center attack could face long term consequences on their health. Lucchini said:
“Of course, we know that the inhalation of dust and particles can trigger cancer and respiratory and cardiovascular problems. But it can also create systemic reactions throughout the body, regulating things like hormones, behavior and the brain.”
Manish Arora, an associate professor of dentistry and environmental medicine at the Icahn school, said the 9/11 teeth are unlike anything he’s come across:
“It is completely different from what we’ve seen before. This was really something so intensive for these children to be exposed to at the time. It is very important for us to understand the risks so we can provide them with information and recommendations.”
Around 40,000 children were attending school near Ground Zero on 9/11, yet there are few studies about the possible effects, according to Kimberly Flynn, director of 9/11 Environmental Action:
“Children exposed to the 9/11 environmental disaster remain the least studied of any of the exposed population. The community continues to demand answers that will help families and children better understand what their future risks may be from 9/11 exposures.”
Though 16-year-old Lagodich has yet to notice negative effects, she told Newsweek that she does “worry about it.”
The research team at Mount Sinai is continuing their research and collecting more baby teeth, hoping they reach “firm scientific conclusions.”