Cement dust, smoke, glass fibers, and heavy metals present in the air at Ground Zero on 9/11 is to blame for significant damage to first responders’ kidneys, according to research presented during American Society of Nephrology Kidney Week in Atlanta. This finding adds to the team’s previous discovery of abnormalities in the hearts and lungs of 9/11 first responders.

Kidney tests demonstrated a linear trend between level of exposure to particulate matter and measures of poor kidney function. Participants with the highest exposure to particulate matter had significantly worse kidney function than those with low exposure.

“We observed a statistically significant independent relationship of high exposure to particulate matter with albuminuria in this cohort after controlling for pertinent risk factors,” reported lead author Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “This novel finding paves the way for future studies of environmental exposures and inflammation in the pathogenesis of albuminuria.”