There is a connection between air pollution and the speed of Covid-19spread

We suggest to read this interesting article drawn up by our prestigious Swiss partner Sols on the relation between environmental pollution and greater diffusion of Covid-19 infection.

"Air pollution is associated with an increased risk
of prolonged inflammation, even in young, healthy subjects,
resulting in overactivation of the immune system."
 - Andrea Ranzi, environmental epidemiologist of the Regional Agency
for the Environmental Protection of Emilia Romagna.

Harvard University, with a study published in April 2020, states that a small increase in long-term exposure to PM 2.5 leads to a large increase in the mortality rate from COVID-19.

In the first days of March 2020, a group of researchers from the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine, the University of Bari "Aldo Moro" and the University of Bologna published a position paper in which the hypothesis of a relationship between exceedances of the legal limits of atmospheric particulate matter concentrations and the number of cases infected by COVID-19 is communicated.

The Italian researchers used the air pollution data published on the sites of the Regional Environmental Protection Agencies (ARPA) relating to all the detection units active on the national territory between 10 and 29 February, linking them to the increase in COVID-19 infections updated to 3 March, thus taking into account the two weeks of incubation of the virus. This comparison proved to be significant in the area of the Po Valley where expansion curves of the infection with abnormal accelerations were observed, clearly coinciding (two weeks later) with the highest concentrations of atmospheric particulate matter. "The high dust concentrations recorded in February in the Po Valley produced a boost, an acceleration, to the spread of COVID-19. The effect is more evident in those provinces where there were the first outbreaks", explains Leonardo Setti, researcher at the Department of Industrial Chemistry "Toso Montanari" of the University of Bologna.

Gianluigi de Gennaro, from the University of Bari, continues: "The dust is carrying the virus. They are acting as carriers. The more dust is present in the air, the more highways are created for contagions. We must reduce emissions to a minimum and hope for a favourable meteorology".

On the other hand, however, the Italian Aerosol Society (IAS) has responded to this hypothesis with a note: "Current knowledge regarding the interaction between PM pollution levels and the diffusion of COVID-19 is still very limited and this requires the utmost caution in the interpretation of the available data. A possible effect of particulate pollution on COVID-19 contamination remains, at the current state of knowledge, a hypothesis that will have to be carefully assessed through extensive and thorough investigations".

Until researchers are able to provide the population with clearer and more accurate data on the correlation between environmental pollution and the rate of spread of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, it remains obvious that everyone agrees that airborne particulate matter is capable of worsening our state of health.

In fact, the IAS expresses itself as follows: "It is known that exposure, more or less prolonged, to high concentrations of PM increases susceptibility to chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and that this condition can worsen the health situation of those infected. These high concentrations are frequently observed in northern Italy, especially in the Po Valley, during the winter period". Polluting particulate matter in the air increases the inflammatory response at the lung level and may aggravate the symptoms of Sars-Cov-2.

It is therefore important to consider all literature presenting a cause-effect relationship between environmental pollution and certain respiratory diseases.

Obviously if the lung situation worsens, the individual is certainly more prone to more or less serious complications if he or she comes into contact with the virus.

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More information:


POSITION PAPER - Report on the effect of air particulate pollution and the spread of viruses in the population - Italian Society of Environmental Medicine, University of Bari, University of Bologna

Information on the relationship between air pollution and the diffusion of COVID-19 - Società Italiana di Aerosol (IAS)