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Air pollution

Undark: Air Pollution Could Make People More Vulnerable to COVID-19

minute read

Written by Undark on April 16, 2020

In major cities around the globe, the sky often bears a brown haze. While air quality in the United States has improved in recent decades, industrial pollution remains a persistent public health hazard, stemming from any number of sources — vehicles, boilers, power plants, construction equipment, boats, and commercial cooking facilities, to name just a few. The people who live nearby are chronically exposed to contaminated air, and this exposure can compromise their lungs and hearts. Under these conditions, the rate of chronic illnesses increases, and so does the likelihood of developing a serious respiratory disease like Covid-19.  

With road and air travel ground to a halt, the skies in American cities are less polluted now than they were before the pandemic, but experts say the effects of decades of exposure won’t simply disappear.  

But a lot of variables come into play. “There are so many other factors that are so dominant,” said Jonathan Samet, a pulmonary physician and epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health, a partnership of the University of Colorado Anschutz, Colorado State University, and the University of Northern Colorado. Air pollution might be a minor player over an inability to socially distance, or actively smoking and perhaps vaping. “Our pollution exposures vary,” Samet said. “Disentangling this for research, would be, to me, almost an impossibility.” 


Read the full story at Undark.