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Association between air pollution and COVID-19 mortality and morbidity

HumanInsight Association between air pollution and COVID-19 mortality and morbidity

Intern Emerg Med. 2021 Oct 12. doi: 10.1007/s11739-021-02834-5. Online ahead of print.


Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting the world unevenly. One of the highest numbers of cases were recorded in the most polluted regions worldwide. The risk factors for severe COVID-19 include diabetes, cardiovascular, and respiratory diseases. It has been known that the same disease might be worsened by chronic exposure to air pollution. The study aimed to determine whether long-term average exposure to air pollution is associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Poland. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases and deaths for each voivodeship (the main administrative level of jurisdictions) in Poland were collected from March 4, 2020, to May 15, 2020. Based on the official data published by Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection voivodeship-level long-term exposure to main air pollution: PM2.5, PM10, NO2, SO2, O3 (averaged from 2013 to 2018) was established. There were statistically significant correlation between COVID-19 cases (per 100,000 population) and annual average concentration of PM2.5 (R2 = 0.367, p = 0.016), PM10 (R2 = 0.415, p = 0.009), SO2 (R2 = 0.489, p = 0.003), and O3 (R2 = 0.537, p = 0.0018). Moreover, COVID-19 deaths (per 100,000 population) were associated with annual average concentration of PM2.5 (R2 = 0.290, p = 0.038), NO2 (R2 = 0.319, p = 0.028), O3 (R2 = 0.452, p = 0.006). The long-term exposure to air pollution, especially PM2.5, PM10, SO2, NO2, O3 seems to play an essential role in COVID-19 prevalence and mortality. Long-term exposure to air pollution might increase the susceptibility to the infection, exacerbates the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infections, and worsens the patients’ prognosis. The study provides generalized and possible universal trends. Detailed analyzes of the phenomenon dedicated to a given region require taking into account data on comorbidities and socioeconomic variables as well as information about the long-term exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 cases and deaths at smaller administrative level of jurisdictions (community or at least district level).

PMID:34637085 | DOI:10.1007/s11739-021-02834-5

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