Breathing in polluted air can increase the rate of fatalities for coronavirus patients. A new study links air pollution to the increased complications for patients who are suffering from respiratory problems such as pandemic disease COVID-19.
According to The Guardian, a study conducted in the US claims that COVID-19 patients in countries with higher toxic air levels are far more likely to die than the patients in countries with cleaner air. While it is common knowledge that polluted air is one of the major causes of common respiratory distress syndrome, the researchers note that this could be a cause of virus-related deaths, too.
Another report by researchers from Italy suggests a similar outcome and a link between polluted air and COVID-19 related deaths. The report suggests that the high number of death reported in the north of the country can be "correlated with the highest levels of air pollution."
The study that was published in the journal of Environment Pollution concluded: We conclude that the high level of pollution in northern Italy should be considered an additional co-factor of the high level of lethality recorded in that area."
In light of the study's findings, the scientists passed a word of caution to the countries with a high level of pollution. They recommend the governments to deploy extra precautionary measures in order to curb or prevent the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, many countries have now ordered for stringent lockdown. This has resulted in a massive drop in pollution levels. However, scientists urge them to maintain lower pollution levels in the future for the benefit of COVID-19 patients and prevent virus-related deaths.
Researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston conducted a study by analysing air pollution levels and COVID-19 deaths up to April 4 in 3,000 US counties and found out that the risk of fatality is 20 times higher for COVID-19 patients when exposed to a small increase in exposure to particle pollution.
"We found that an increase of only 1μg/m3 in PM2.5 [particles] is associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 death rate," the team suggests. "The results are statistically significant and robust,"they said.
In their study, the researchers did take into account other factors such as smoking habits, fitness levels, economic levels and more.
"Previous work showed that air pollution exposure dramatically increased the risk of death from [the] Sars [coronavirus] during the 2003 outbreak," said Rachel Nethery, one of the Harvard team members. "So we think our results here are consistent with those findings," she added.
Xiao Wu, another member of the researchers' team suggests that the study can be used for the countries to prepare themselves for the COVID-19 outcomes and accordingly adapt effective precautionary measures.
"In light of this, we should consider additional measures to protect ourselves from pollution exposure to reduce the COVID-19 death toll," Wu said.
As per the report, early research by scientists did reveal the chances of higher susceptibility of smokers and former smokers to the novel coronavirus. Therefore, regulating pollution levels can be considered an additional measure to reduce the number of deaths caused by COVID-19