Energy & Environment

Coronavirus patients in areas with high air pollution more likely to die: research

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Coronavirus patients who live in cities with higher levels of air pollution may be at significantly higher risk of death from the disease, a new study finds.

The national study from five Harvard researchers with the university’s Department of Biostatistics analyzing more than 3,000 U.S. counties found that coronavirus patients with long-term exposure to fine particulate matter have significantly higher death rates than do those not subject to air pollution.

“A small increase in long-term exposure to [particulate matter] leads to a large increase in COVID-19 death rate, with the magnitude of increase 20 times that observed for [particulate matter] and all cause mortality. The study results underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis,” the study’s conclusion reads.

Specifically, the researchers found that an increase in air pollution of one gram per cubic meter led to as much as a 15 percent spike in death rates among patients in those areas.

“The results of this paper suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe COVID-19 outcomes,” the paper continues.

News of links between the severity of the disease and air pollution comes as some metropolitan centers have been inundated with hospitalizations due to the disease and have struggled to provide enough hospital beds for coronavirus patients.

Officials in Louisiana initially estimated that the state would run out of hospital beds this week, though the governor later revised that projection.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 76,000 globally, including nearly 11,000 in the U.S.

Tags Air pollution Coronavirus Harvard
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