Clin Exp Otorhinolaryngol.  2019 Aug;12(3):294-300. 10.21053/ceo.2018.00612.

The Effects of Air Pollutants on the Prevalence of Common Ear, Nose, and Throat Diseases in South Korea: A National Population-Based Study

  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Seoul Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Clinical Research Center, Asan Institute of Life Sciences, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


The effects of air pollutants on upper airway disease development have been seldom studied. In this study, we evaluated the effects of air pollution on the prevalence of ENT diseases.
We identified cases of ENT disease occurring in 2009, as recorded by the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and explored their associations with the levels of five air pollutants: sulfur dioxide (SO₂), nitrogen dioxide (NO₂), ozone (O₃), carbon monoxide (CO), and particulate matter (PM₁₀ particles; particulates ≤10 μm in aerodynamic diameter). Subjects diagnosed with at least one of the five studied ENT diseases were included in analysis, but those aged under 19 years were excluded. Linear associations between ENT disease frequency and pollutant levels were evaluated by calculating Spearman correlations. After adjusting for age, gender, and geographic region, multivariate logistic regression was used to obtain odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).
A total of 7,399 subjects with ENT diseases were identified. A linear association was evident between PM₁₀ concentration and the frequency of septal deviation (Spearman coefficient, 0.507; P=0.045). After adjustment, the PM₁₀ level was associated with high odds ratios for chronic rhinosinusitis (1.22; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.46) and septal deviation (1.43; 95% CI, 1.22 to 1.67). Both of these conditions were more prevalent in males.
We found that increased ambient concentrations of PM₁₀ particles were clearly associated with increased the risk of chronic rhinosinusitis and septal deviation; the exposure-response relationship was definitive.


Air Pollution; Health Impact Assessment; Respiratory Tract Infections; Nose
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