A novel study has found that air pollution is widely contributing to COVID-19 mortality in the U.S.
A report published in IOP Science stated that the rise in mortality rate is connected to a 9% increase in death among people with COVID-19.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) hazard index classifies air toxins based on any unpleasant health effects they may cause and the degree to which they cause this.
Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) are responsible for causing cancer. EPA reports that HAPs are associated with a major threat of respiratory and immune conditions. The study examined HAPs that caused the major respiratory toxicity weighted exposure in the U.S., including naphthalene, formaldehyde, diesel particulate matter, acetaldehyde, and acrolein.
The researchers didn’t examine the acute exposure from specific chemicals, but theorized that high levels of chronic exposure, with other causal factors, raises mortality risk from COVID-19.
The research team asserts that HAPS majorly led to COVID-19 vulnerability as they are connected to chronic respiratory stress.
Air pollution may affect COVID-19 mortality rates by weakening lung function, or by creating or worsening chronic lung conditions such as COPD, asthma, and may even lead to heart disease.
What is the Impact of Wildfires on COVID-19 Patients?
Wildfires, particularly in the Western U.S. are adding to the levels of HAPs in the air. Wildfires produce HAPs, such as particulate matter, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde.
Petroni reports that these HAPS are some of the main respiratory system irritants that are linked to higher COVID-19 death rates. He asserts that some transformations to forest and wildfire management can help ease massive burns, thus causing the HAP levels to reduce.
Wildfires are particularly noticeable sources of HAPs, even though they are not the major contributor to exposure across the country. HAP exposure is subtle and is mostly produced from any kind of combustion.
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How to Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke
According to EPA, to protect yourself from wild fire smoke, you have to observe the following precautionary measures:
- Always close doors and windows
- Use fans and air conditioning to stay cool.
- Stay away from activities that create more fine particles indoors, like smoking cigarettes.
- Reduce the smoke that gains access to your home by adjusting your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system or air conditioner to keep smoke out.
- Employ the use of a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency filter to remove fine particles from the air.
- Ventilate your home by opening windows or the fresh air intake on your HVAC system when the air quality improves, even temporarily.
What Is the Correlation Between Air Pollution and COVID-19?
Earlier studies have examined the relationship between COVID-19 mortality and population-based exposure to nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter.
Despite the fact that the COVID-19 lockdown caused the level of air pollution to drop, other studies have established a connection between higher levels of pollutants to increased risk of COVID-19 infection and mortality.
Another study at the Harvard University is examining the long-term effects of particulate matter on COVID-19 deaths. According to the authors, people who reside in a county with high levels of fine particulate pollution are 8% more liable to die from COVID-19 as when compared to someone in an area with low levels.
Reports from these various studies reveal that most Americans are exposed to multiple threats to their lung health.
Also, scientists from Netherlands examined the air quality readings while weighing levels of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and fine particulate matter. It was found that regions with higher levels of pollutant naturally had more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
In conclusion, Petroni is looking forward to their latest study turning up more research into what makes up “safe” levels of chronic air pollutant exposure. He added that the major goal of the study was to examine the budding hypothesis that there’s in fact a link between air pollution risks and COVID-19 mortality risks.
Conversely in the Philippines, Cesar Bugaoisan, of the Association for Respiratory Care Practitioners, stated that a preliminary data indicated that a higher percentage of the corona virus-related mortalities in the country had pre-existing conditions which is connected to air pollution.
Most of the world’s population resides in parts where air pollution goes beyond its limits, mostly in poor countries.
According to WHO reports, a number of WHO and United Nations reports that most of the countries with high levels of air pollution includes South Asia, the Middle East, sub-Saharan and North Africa, Cities in Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Peru.
Reports from the World Air Quality Report 2019 put forward that India is one of the cities with high air pollution levels. The number of Covid-19 related deaths so far in India is 521.
The assessment from various studies avows that parts of the world with a considerable air pollution problem in the form of particulate matter experience very strong correlation to areas severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This pollution, acting steadily, has considerably deteriorated the properties of our respiratory and circulatory systems, and rendered people vulnerable to any respiratory illness.
Ways to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
- EPA gives some effective ways you can help protect the indoor air quality in your own home:
- Test for radon or find out how to fix high levels of radon.
- Cut down asthma triggers, including secondhand smoke and dust mites.
- Avert mold by controlling moisture.
- Keep your home and car smoke-free.
- Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, and change the batteries in existing CO and smoke detectors.
- Keep your ventilation system in sound check