Air Pollution Exposure and the Development of Chronic Rhinosinusitis in the Active Duty Population

Trevor Elam, Sorana Raiciulescu, Shyam Biswal, Michael Orestes, Murugappan Ramanathan, Zhenyu Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: It has been shown that combat environment exposure, including burn pits that produce particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), is associated with lower respiratory tract disease in the military population with increased hypothetical risk of upper respiratory disease, but no study has been done that examines the effects of non-combat environmental exposures on the development of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) in the active duty population. The primary goal of this study is to evaluate how air pollution exposure correlates to the development of CRS in active duty service members in the United States. Methods: The military electronic medical record was queried for active duty service members diagnosed with CRS by an otolaryngologist between January 2016 and January 2018, who have never deployed, stationed in the United States from 2015 to 2018 (n = 399). For each subject, the 1-year mean exposure of PM2.5, particulate matter 10 (PM10), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone was calculated. The control group was comprised of the same criteria except these patients were diagnosed with cerumen impaction and matched to the case group by age and gender (n = 399). Pollution exposure was calculated based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s data tables for each subject. Values were calculated using chi-square test for categorical variables and the Mann–Whitney U-test for continuous variables. Results: Matched cases and controls (n = 399) with 33.1% male showed a statistically significant odds ratio (OR) of 5.99 (95% CI, 2.55-14.03) for exposure of every 5 µg/m3 of PM2.5 increase and the development of CRS when controlling for age, gender, and diagnosis year. When further adjusting for smoking status, the OR was still statistically significant at 3.15 (95% CI, 1.03-9.68). Particulate matter 10, ozone, and NO2 did not show any statistical significance. Odds ratios remained statistically significant when further adjusting for PM10 and ozone, but not NO2. Dose-dependent curves largely did not show a statistical significance; however, they did trend towards increased exposure of PM2.5 leading to an elevated OR. Conclusion: This study showed that PM2.5 exposure is a major independent contributor to the development of CRS. Exposure to elevated levels produced statistically significant odds even among smokers and remained significant when controlling for other measured pollutants. There is still much to be understood about the genesis of CRS. From a pollution exposure perspective, a prospective cohort study would better elucidate the risk of the development of CRS among those exposed to other pollutants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1965-E1969
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Air Pollution Exposure and the Development of Chronic Rhinosinusitis in the Active Duty Population'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this