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Rescue/recovery work at the World Trade Center disaster site (WTC) caused a proximate decline in lung function in Fire Department of the City of New York firefighters. A subset of this cohort experienced an accelerated rate of lung function decline over 15 years of post-September 11, 2001 (9/11) follow-up.To determine if early postexposure blood leukocyte concentrations are biomarkers for subsequent FEV1 decline and incident airflow limitation.Individual rates of forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) change were calculated for 9,434 firefighters using 88,709 spirometric measurements taken between September 11, 2001, and September 10, 2016. We categorized FEV1 change rates into three trajectories: accelerated FEV1 decline (FEV1 loss >64 ml/yr), expected FEV1 decline (FEV1 loss between 0 and 64 ml/yr), and improved FEV1 (positive rate of change >0 ml/yr). Occurrence of FEV1/FVC less than 0.70 after 9/11 defined incident airflow limitation. Using regression models, we assessed associations of post-9/11 blood eosinophil and neutrophil concentrations with subsequent FEV1 decline and airflow limitation, adjusted for age, race, smoking, height, WTC exposure level, weight change, and baseline lung function.Accelerated FEV1 decline occurred in 12.7% of participants (1,199 of 9,434), whereas post-9/11 FEV1 improvement occurred in 8.3% (780 of 9,434). Higher blood eosinophil and neutrophil concentrations were each associated with accelerated FEV1 decline after adjustment for covariates (odds ratio [OR], 1.10 per 100 eosinophils/μl; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05-1.15; and OR, 1.10 per 1,000 neutrophils/μl; 95% CI, 1.05-1.15, respectively). Multivariable-adjusted linear regression models showed that a higher blood neutrophil concentration was associated with a faster rate of FEV1 decline (1.14 ml/yr decline per 1,000 neutrophils/μl; 95% CI, 0.69-1.60 ml/yr; P < 0.001). Higher blood eosinophil concentrations were associated with a faster rate of FEV1 decline in ever-smokers (1.46 ml/yr decline per 100 eosinophils/μl; 95% CI, 0.65-2.26 ml/yr; P < 0.001) but not in never-smokers (P for interaction = 0.004). Higher eosinophil concentrations were also associated with incident airflow limitation (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.10 per 100 eosinophils/μl; 95% CI, 1.04-1.15). Compared with the expected FEV1 decline group, individuals experiencing accelerated FEV1 decline were more likely to have incident airflow limitation (adjusted OR, 4.12; 95% CI, 3.30-5.14).Higher post-9/11 blood neutrophil and eosinophil concentrations were associated with subsequent accelerated FEV1 decline in WTC-exposed firefighters. Both higher blood eosinophil concentrations and accelerated FEV1 decline were associated with incident airflow limitation in WTC-exposed firefighters.