A new nationwide study of the United Stated conducted by the Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has found that coronavirus patients who are exposed to higher levels of air pollution before the outbreak are more likely to not survive the infection, compared to those living in areas with cleaner air.
This is the first study that has offered a clear connection between the long-term exposure to air pollution and the COVID-19 death rates.
According to the authors of the study, “The results of this paper suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe COVID-19 outcomes”.
As per the study an individual who has been living for decades in a county which has high levels of fine particulate matter, that individual is 15 per cent more likely to die from coronavirus, compared to someone living in an area with just one unit less of the fine particulate matter.
The study however, does not cover individual patient data, nor does it cater to the questions as to why some areas of the United States are hit harder than the others, if particulate matter plays a role in the spread of the virus and if long-term exposure directly leads to a direct greater risk.
Many studies and authors have written about the impact of exposure to polluted air on individuals health, causing heightened risk of not just lung cancer but heart attacks, impacts on newborns and an overall reduction in the quantity and quality of life.
The study has been submitted to The New England Journal of Medicine for review.
Beth Gardiner in her latest book, Choked: The Age of Air Pollution and the Fight for a Cleaner Future has highlighted by travelling around the world how the science behind air pollution can be tricky and how if not taken seriously the issue is going to create havoc, even more than it already is.
At the moment the key focus is on finding a cure for coronavirus as it has literally brought our world to a standstill. However, it is important that once this is all over, we don’t stop looking for answers. We all have a hunch that our reckless lifestyles have a role to play in this, but it is important that we find scientific proof and opt for sustainable alternatives.