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Sun Mar 29, 2020, 04:08 PM

Maybe an interesting link: Air pollution and complications from COVID-19?

I was reading this article in the NYT:

Now Is the Time to Take Care of Your Lungs. Here’s How.

If you are one of the millions of Americans breathing polluted air, you may be at a greater risk of catching the coronavirus and of having a more severe infection.

The reasons are twofold. First, air pollution can cause or aggravate respiratory illnesses like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. And those illnesses can make you more susceptible to the worst effects of lung infections. Second, exposure to air pollution is known to raise the chance of contracting viruses in the first place, regardless of underlying health conditions.

“Increased pollution increases susceptibility to infection,” said Dr. Meredith McCormack, a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association and associate professor of pulmonary and critical care at Johns Hopkins University. “All things being equal, a person exposed to air pollution would likely have a worse outcome if they were exposed to coronavirus.”

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/climate/climate-pollution-coronavirus-lungs.html?algo=top_conversion&fellback=false&imp_id=412379994&imp_id=726837518&action=click&module=Most%20Popular&pgtype=Homepage

Out of interest I Googled "pollution Italy" because I recalled reading something about certain regions of Italy being very polluted, also environmentally contaminated. This study came up.

Air pollution exposure, cause-specific deaths and hospitalizations in a highly polluted Italian region

The Lombardy region in northern Italy ranks among the most air polluted areas of Europe. Previous studies showed air pollution short-term effects on all-cause mortality. We examine here the effects of particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤10 µm (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposure on deaths and hospitalizations from specific causes, including cardiac, cerebrovascular and respiratory diseases.


As many of us will recall, Lombardy is the epicenter of the Italy outbreak:

Coronavirus death toll in Italy's Lombardy rises by around 416 in a day: source

ROME (Reuters) - The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in the northern region of Lombardy, the epicenter of Italy’s contagion, has risen by around 416 in a day to some 6,360, a source familiar with the data said on Sunday.

The daily deaths were down sharply from Saturday’s tally of 542, which was the second largest since the outbreak first emerged just over 5 weeks ago.

The number of cases in the region, which includes the country’s financial capital Milan, increased by some 1,592 to approximately 41,007, the source said.


I hope some epidemiologists are looking at whether there is a correlation between high air pollution and complications/deaths from the coronavirus (China, Spain, Iran?). Likewise, it would be interesting to know if countries that have fared better (Germany, to name one) have lower air pollution rates. I'm sure somebody has thought of this.

It may be nothing, but it just seems like an interesting area of inquiry.

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