NEW DELHI: People with long-term exposure to air pollution are more likely to experience the coronavirus outcome compared to those breathing clean air, claims a study conducted by Harvard University based on the COVID-19 mortality analysis in the United States.
The study is important keeping in mind that many Indian cities are among the most polluted places in the world.
Researchers at The Harvard University TH Chan School of Public Health investigated whether long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) increases the risk of COVID-19 deaths in the US. Government scientists estimate that the disease may kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans.
“We found that an increase of only 1 μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15 per cent increase in the COVID-19 death rate. The majority of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death for COVID-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution,” said researchers.
The data was collected for approximately 3,000 counties in the United States (98 per cent of the population) up to April 04.
Many studies linked lung cancer, stroke, asthma and other diseases to exposure to PM 2.5 and other harmful pollutants, but these 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.
Since lockdown in India, air quality across 85 major cities has improved. The CPCB analysis found that most of the million-plus population cities, which have high population density and a substantial share of emissions from the transport sector, showed improvement in air quality levels post ‘Janata Curfew’ on March 22.