New York: Around 18,000 people affected by the dust that engulfed New York City's Manhattan area after the collapse of the World Trade Center still suffer from serious respiratory problems, a media report said Sunday.

Around two-thirds of the affected people were emergency workers. The other one-third are those who lived and worked adjacent to the World Trade Center, says a daily news. Many have lost their jobs, and many have also seen their children develop respiratory illnesses.

Barbara Caporale, 54, lives in New York with her 14-year-old daughter Rockella. “A thick coating of grit covered everything and the sky was grey for days. There was never a proper clean-up,” she said.

“I didn't want to send my four-year-old daughter out - none of the mothers did. But we had no choice. If you were on public assistance, you could not take time off or you lost your meagre benefits. I had to work and send her to day care.”

Rockella developed a host of respiratory problems. “I get really bad migraines and smells, like fumes or smoke or things that other people are okay with, just make me want to vomit. I've fainted before. I used to be much more active, but now I get tired much more easily, and I get short of breath. About half the kids I know have asthma,” Rockella said.

At the World Trade Center Environmental Clinic opened at the Bellevue public hospital, 6,000 patients have already been treated. The centre was the brainchild of 58-year-old Joan Reibman.

“A large number have lost their jobs. They can't function the way they were. They are so short of breath that they can't walk a block,” Reibman said.