Risk factors for post-9/11 chronic rhinosinusitis in Fire Department of the City of New York workers

Barbara Putman, Rachel Zeig-Owens, Ankura Singh, Charles B. Hall, Theresa Schwartz, Mayris P. Webber, Hillel W. Cohen, David J. Prezant, Claus Bachert, Michael D. Weiden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objectives Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) has high socioeconomic burden but underexplored risk factors. The collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers on 11 September 2001 (9/11) caused dust and smoke exposure, leading to paranasal sinus inflammation and CRS. We aim to determine which job tasks are risk factors for CRS in WTC-exposed Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) workers. Methods This cohort study included a 16-year follow-up of 11 926 WTC-exposed FDNY rescue/recovery workers with data on demographics, WTC exposure, job tasks and first post-9/11 complete blood counts. Using multivariable Cox regression, we assessed the associations of WTC exposure, work assignment (firefighter/EMS), digging and rescue tasks at the WTC site and blood eosinophil counts with subsequent CRS, adjusting for potential confounders. Results The rate of CRS was higher in firefighters than EMS (1.80/100 person-years vs 0.70/100 person-years; p<0.001). The combination of digging and rescue work was a risk factor for CRS (HR 1.54, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.94, p<0.001) independent of work assignment and WTC exposure. Conclusions Compared with EMS, firefighters were more likely to engage in a combination of digging and rescue work, which was a risk factor for CRS. Chronic irritant exposures associated with digging and rescue work may account for higher post-9/11 CRS rates among firefighters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)884-889
Number of pages6
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • World Trade Center disaster
  • chronic rhinosinusitis
  • longitudinal studies
  • occupational exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk factors for post-9/11 chronic rhinosinusitis in Fire Department of the City of New York workers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this