The new study reveals that a person exposed to air pollution for the long-term has much higher chances to get COVID-19. He will experience more severe symptoms and more likely to lose his life as a result of it.
This study analyzed the air pollution and COVID-19 relation in nearly 3000 counties of the US. They were able to draw a 10% increase in COVID-19 cases among people exposed to PM2.5 for a long time. The complete study findings are published in Science Advances.
All health experts agree that air pollution has damaging effects on health, especially respiratory health. It increases the chances of nose, throat, and lungs related diseases which include flu, common cold, allergies, and COVID-19.
This study doesn’t specifically target who will die from the coronavirus pandemic. But these findings may inspire law and policymakers to update environmental laws. There are certain factors that are modifiable for changing their role in any disease, in particular COVID-19 which is a public health crisis this year.
Factors like air pollution may make COVID-19 symptoms worse and increase the risk of death in people who are struggling for their life. So controlling air pollution could be a factor to control death by respiratory diseases such as coronavirus for the future.
This study also makes a strong argument based on undeniable scientific facts that the country should probably revise its PM2.5 standards as well as other environment-related policies during this pandemic. In the areas where PM2.5 is highest, this need is needed more.
In addition to this, the organizations and associations can work on the county level to ensure immediate action which will positively affect public health. It may include providing personal protective equipment (PPE), other safety gear, and hospital beds in those areas which have high air pollution.
The research team investigated the COVID-19 deaths reported county wise and associated it with the daily PM2.5 levels all across the country from 2000 to 2016. Although they were only able to identify a small increase in the total air pollution which is 1 microgram per cubic meter, yet this ‘small’ increase is behind an 11% increase in deaths by COVID-19.
It suggests that the air pollution levels which are marked safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (US) are so much higher than acceptable levels. Relating COVID-19 deaths to global warming, it doesn’t establish a direct relationship but in general, switching to more sustainable energy sources i.e. renewable energy can help to improve air quality and reduce pollution.
During this coronavirus pandemic, the air pollution levels dropped in many major cities of the world which were among the most polluted areas before the pandemic hit. For example, New York saw a drop in PM2.5 levels during the lockdown but it was increased again after the lockdown was lifted.
It clearly shows that air pollution can be managed by imposing certain pollution control measures at the state level. Ideally, if this is planned, there are high chances that the death toll of the future pandemics would be much lower than this on-going coronavirus pandemic.