Nasal Microbiome Sampling

In addition to individual’s gut microbiome, we are interested in how the airway microbiome changes in response to physical activity and some environmental exposures, such as pool treatments in swimmers and divers. This part of the study seeks to determine how the airway microbiome in athletes who are chronically exposed to treated pool water and whether these changes predict future airway disease such as asthma, sinusitis, or rhinitis (Hay Fever).


We will ask participants to obtain nasal samples for a 6-month period (up to 2 times a week each Wednesday) by swabbing the inside of your nose (“nares”). To collect this sample, we will give you a sterile, double-tipped cotton swab that is labeled with a de-identified code. You’ll need to follow the instructions below:

1. Remove the sterile swab from the tube

2. Insert the swab heads less than 1 cm into your nostril (Fig. 1)

3. Gently rub the inside of your nose with the swab heads for 1-2 seconds (Fig. 1)

4. Remove the swabs from your nostril, then place the same swab heads into your other nostril, repeating the procedure. Be careful not to touch the outside of your nose or any other surface with the swab head.

5. After you remove the swab heads from your second nostril, carefully return them to the original tube and return the tube to the Project Team Member.

6. Enter your specimen ID (located on the swab tube) and sample date  into the RedCap database.


Fig. 1. Illustration depicting how to collect microbiome samples from the nose using a swab.


For each swab, nucleic acid (DNA) will be extracted and a small section of microbial DNA will be sequenced. We will also ask that you fill out a nasal symptom questionnaire that will allow us to correlate your nasal microbiome with airway symptoms.

Risk. This study is anticipated to pose little risk of harm to you as a volunteer. It is possible that you may feel momentary discomfort or embarrassment from taking the samples from your nose. We will provide a privacy screen to mitigate this risk. Please be assured that there is no pain associated with taking these samples. However, you may damage sensitive nasal tissue or experience nasal bleeding if you insert the swabs greater than 2-3cm into your nose when taking the nasal sample.