Study underlines link between COVID-19 and air pollution
New Delhi (India Science Wire): As winters are arriving the Delhi/NCR region has started experiencing the problem of smog. From the past few years, it has been seen that the Air Quality Index drops down to dangerous levels during winters. Experts are apprehending a possible spike in coronavirus cases once winters sets in. Delhi has already started reporting a spike in COVID-19 infections. Various studies have established that there is a correlation between air pollution and increased risk of COVID-19 disease.
A team of researchers from CSIR- National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) has established the linkage between mortality rates in the coronavirus infected case and air pollution. The research team selected the nine Asian cities as they are listed amongst the top 500 most polluted cities in the world concerning PM2.5. In India Delhi, Nagpur and Kanpur were the selected cities; the other selected cities were from China, Pakistan, and Indonesia. The cities have been chosen based on the availability of data on COVID-19 cases and pollutants. Also, these cities have been less reported and studied for COVID-19 links with air pollution and were not among the cities with the highest reported cases in the respective countries.
The nine cities of Asia have been investigated in relation to COVID-19 reported mortalities. “In view of the examined statistical observations, within the framework of the available data sets, it can be inferred that there exists a relationship between exposures to the high level of air pollutants in a region, over long periods, and increased reported deaths related to COVID-19. With the established correlations, it can be inferred that continuous exposure to undesirably high pollutant concentration must have impacted the immune system of the regional population” concludes the research paper published in the journal Springer. This is further supported by the fact that percentage mortality per unit reported COVID-19 case is significantly correlated with PM2.5 (p<0.05), which is responsible for most of the air pollution-related deaths around the world and have a deep impact in comparison with PM10.
The study suggests that there exists a positive correlation between the level of air pollution of a region and the number of deaths related to COVID-19. This indicates air pollution to be an essential and concealed factor in aggravating the global burden of deaths related to COVID-19. Past exposures to a high level of PM2.5 over a long period, are found to significantly correlate with present COVID-19 mortality per unit reported cases compared to PM10, with a non-significant correlation.
The findings of the study can help in guiding the health ministries of respective nations around the world to provide additional safety guidelines for highly polluted cities and prescribe immunity-boosting medicines. (India Science Wire)