Dr. David Prezant, chief pulmonary physician for the New York Fire Deparment, probably coined "World Trade Center cough" in October 2001.
There are several New York City-named diseases. Another disease in the same neighborhood is "Zuccotti lung," named after Zuccotti Park (formerly called Liberty Plaza Park). Air quality concerns associated with the construction of the Second Avenue Subway were identified in January 2012 as the "Second Avenue Subway cough." Post-Hurricane Sandy health problems in Queens in November 2012 were termed the "Far Rockaway cough."
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
World Trade Center Cough: Lessons Learned
New York University School of Medicine
Background: In the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack and collapse, thousands of people were exposed to high concentrations of gaseous and particulate matter air pollution. This pollution resulted from the release into the atmosphere of millions of tons of pulverized and incinerated building materials, furniture, equipment, and unburned jet fuel. Many residents and emergency responders reported a persistent "World Trade Center cough" despite the pronouncements of safety by a variety of government agencies. This team provides a possible explanation for this disparity.
Advance: One property of the dust that is probably most responsible for its irritancy is its caustic nature. The pH of the bulk of the dust was greater than 10, which is irritating to the mucous membranes found in the nose and throat. The pH decreased as the size of the particles decrease to around neutral pH at 2.5 microns and smaller. The caustic large dust particles caused temporary nose, throat, and upper airway symptoms; however, they were effectively caught by the body's defenses. Conversely the fine dust that did reach the lungs was lower in concentration and much less caustic. Therefore, although severe acute symptoms were reported, the overall dust exposures probably will not have cumulative health implications for the general population in lower Manhattan.
Firefighters to be checked for 'WTC cough'
October 29, 2001 Posted: 1:05 PM EST (1805 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Firefighters who raced to the World Trade Center collapse last month will be checked for respiratory problems.
Starting today, the nearly 11,000 firefighters who responded to the attack will undergo screening.
Dr. David Prezant, chief pulmonologist for the New York Fire Department, said there has been an increase in the number of cases he calls the "World Trade Center cough."
The symptoms have been as severe as respiratory distress requiring mechanical ventilation, while most have a cough with or without associated sinus infection.
30 October 2001, New York (NY) Times, pg. B10:
Rampant Coughs and Chest Pain
Among Workers at Ground Zero
By KATHERINE E. FINKELSTEIN
At least 4,000 firefighters who have worked at ground zero are being treated for persistent coughing and chest pain, a problem the city's Fire Department has labeled World Trade Center cough.
While firefighters often experience a brief period of coughing after battling a fire, those who worked around-the-clock at the disaster site are experiencing a persistent cough that, in many cases, has not subsided six weeks after the disaster, said Dr. David Prezant, the chief pulmonary physician for the force.