COVID-19, News

New Research Links Air Pollution to Higher Coronavirus Death Rates

27 · Jun · 2020
Photograph by: Breathe Mongolia

Long-term exposure to higher levels of air pollution has been found to increase the likelihood of death for coronavirus patients, according to a new study from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study examined data on particulate matter in 3,080 counties in the United States over the past 17 years and each county’s coronavirus death count up until April 4. The study found a statistically significant link between Covid-19 deaths and air pollution. 

Importantly, only a slight increase in air pollution was shown to worsen coronavirus outcomes. Higher levels of air pollution in the U.S. is found mainly in communities of color and poorer neighborhoods, as opposed to white communities. The study found that the death rate fluctuated even between adjacent counties with differences in air pollution levels.

By inhaling fine particulate matter sourced from fuel combustion and tobacco smoke, individuals damage the lining of their lungs and diminish their ability to fight respiratory infections. Previous studies have also found links between increased exposure to air pollution and an increased risk of poor health outcomes, such as heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, and premature death. A study conducted in 2003 by Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that individuals who contracted Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in heavily polluted regions of China were “twice as likely to die from the disease as those in places with low air pollution.” 

The study’s findings are additionally significant for many countries worldwide grappling with high pollution levels, which may not have the appropriate regulations in place to address the pollution.  The authors state that the results “underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the Covid-19 crisis.”

 

Read the original: New Research Links Air Pollution to Higher Coronavirus Death Rates

Published on April 17, 2020, on The New York Times

Translated to Mongolian by Oyun-Erdene Sainbayar
Summarized by Maddie Lee

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