Exposure to higher levels of air pollution is likely to increase the severity of Covid-19 among people suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), warns a study.
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati in the US found that a one-unit increase in particulate matter 2.5 was associated with a 60 per cent higher chance of hospitalisation for Covid-19 patients with pre-existing respiratory disease.
Particulate matter less or equal to 2.5 micrometers refers to a mixture of tiny particles and droplets in the air that are two-and-one half microns or less in width.
For patients without respiratory disease, no association was observed, revealed the findings published online in the scholarly journal Respiratory Medicine.
“Particulate matter is very small, small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs, they cross into the blood and also affect other organ systems. Air pollution as a result of emissions from automobiles, factories or other sources is a generator of particulate matter,” Angelico Mendy, MD, Assistant Professor of environmental and public health sciences, at the varsity’s College of Medicine.
“Our study didn’t find any correlation between severity of Covid-19 and particulate matter in general, but we found something for people who had asthma and COPD,” Mendy added.
The team looked at the health outcomes and backgrounds of 1,128 Covid-19 patients at UC Health. Mendy led a team of researchers in an individual-level study which used a statistical model to evaluate the association between long-term exposure to particulate matter less or equal to 2.5 micrometers and hospitalisations for Covid-19.
“This study may have policy implications such as reducing particulate exposure. Many people want to have more clean energy and reduced emissions into the atmosphere,” Mendy noted.