Coronavirus & Air Pollution. Are they correlated?

The world has been struggling to contain the spread of coronavirus, and health services and authorities all around the world are trying to find ways to reduce the death count. According to a new research from Harvard University, even a small increase in air pollution can make the coronavirus more deadly. The aim of the study was to investigate whether long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increases the risk of COVID-19 deaths in the United States. For this, data was collected for approximately 3,000 counties in the United States (98% of the population) up to April 04, 2020.

The researchers at Harvard found that an increase of only 1 g/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 death rate. A small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to a large increase in COVID-19 death rate, with the magnitude of increase 20 times that observed for PM2.5 and all-cause mortality. The study results underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

Courtesy Harvard University Research

Another research was published in the Journal Science of the Total Environment which looked at COVID-19 fatalities in four of the countries that were severely hit by the virus – Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Results show that out of the 4443 fatality cases, 3487 (78%) were in five regions located in north Italy and central Spain. Additionally, the same five regions show the highest NO2 concentrations combined with downwards airflow which prevent an efficient dispersion of air pollution

As some of the study authors mentioned, “Poisoning our environment means poisoning our own body and when it experiences a chronic respiratory stress, its ability to defend itself from infections is limited.”

Courtesy Journal Science of the Total Environment Research


In conclusion, the results of both these studies indicate that long term exposure to pollution could be one of the most important factors contributing to the fatalities caused by COVID 19.With the easing of the lockdown, it is necessary to take cautious steps to keep ourselves healthy during these uncertain times.

Courtesy Journal Science of the Total Environment Research

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