It is double the penalty for all those who breathe polluted air every day. Chronic exposure to air pollution would increase the risk of Covid-19, a disease resulting from infection with Sars-CoV-2.
At least that’s what a new study suggests, published on January 10, 2022 in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine (Source 1).
The study was carried out among the inhabitants of the city of Varese, located in Lombardy, in northern Italy, a region hard hit by the pandemic. The researchers collected data on the exposure of residents to fine particles (PM2.5, 2.5 micrometers in diameter, and PM10, 10μm), but also nitrogen dioxide NO2, monoxide. nitrogen NO and ozone. Data they cross-checked with the rates of Sars-CoV-2 infection from the start of the pandemic until March 2021.
After taking into account age, gender and living in a retirement home (considered by researchers to be a risk factor for Covid-19), it turned out that PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations were significantly associated with an increased rate of novel coronavirus infection.
In detail, the authors measured that each 1 µg / m3 increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 was associated with a 5% increase in the number of new cases of Covid-19, which equals 294 additional cases per 100,000 inhabitants / year. And applying seasonal rather than annual averages yielded similar results. High concentrations of NO2 and NO were also associated with an increased risk of infection.
In a press release (Source 2), the scientists add that the associations observed here were even more visible among the older participants, indicating a stronger effect of pollutants on the infection rate in 55-64 and 65-74 year olds. .
Since chronic exposure to air pollution increases the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, due to the inflammation generated and affecting the immune system, it is quite possible that the same mechanisms are at play here.
Although more studies are needed to ensure the validity of this link between pollution and Covid-19, the authors call for stepping up the fight against air pollution, which leads to many illnesses and deaths.