Air pollution is linked to a severe spike in coronavirus death rate, a study from Harvard University has found.
Tiny particles in the air, called PM2.5, are known to cause long-term health issues and are produced by industry, automobiles and the burning of fossil fuels.
First, what is a PM?
It’s a mixture of both solid particles and liquid droplets in the air. They form from a variety of things like traffic, construction sites, unpaved roads, fields and fires. Sometimes you can even see these with the naked eye, but many you cannot.
PM2.5 means the particle is generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller.
Scientists say that even a small increase in PM2.5 concentration is linked to a much higher chance of death after contracting the coronavirus.
Now… before you say… but Kris… duh… more pollution happens where more people live. The more people leads to more contact, and this leads to more cases. Yes. This is true. But stay with me and read on.
The scientists from this study collected air pollution data from nearly 3,000 US counties, which accounts for 98 percent of the country’s population. They then took this data and compared it to coronavirus statistics. They even took into account poverty levels, smoking, obesity, number of available COVID-19 tests and available hospital beds.
Pollution inhibits the body’s first line of protection against such pathogens. So when these particles enter the lungs, the body’s respiratory tract has a tougher time preventing infection.
One expert said it best… let’s say the virus lands on a micro-particle of dust. That little dust particle gets inside your home and then into your nose. Small amount of infected pollution and you’re infected. The more polluted air particles, the greater the risk of this happening.
The advice is… the more polluted an area is, the greater the need to social distance.
Now this study has NOT been scrutinized by other scientists. So obviously, more information is needed.
But some believe that if we drop the levels of air pollution, it could bring on huge health benefits… short and long term.
(***sources: Harvard, US EPA, Live Science, medRx-iv)