London, Jan 10 (Latest) .- Long-term exposure to environmental air pollution could increase the risk of becoming infected with covid-19, according to the findings of a study published online in the journal “Occupational & Environmental Medicine”, of the BMJ.
Experts from the Italian University of Insubria (in Varese) analyzed long-term exposure to pollutants and covid-19 infection patterns from the onset of the pandemic to March 2021 among residents of Varese, in the Lombardy region.
They revealed that only 3.5% of the population in that region was fully vaccinated by the end of March 2021.
The study estimated annual and seasonal average levels of five air pollutants for 2018 for an area of more than 40 kilometers: PM2.5, PM10, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitric oxide and ozone.
After evaluating factors such as age, gender, and the fact of residing in the homes of the elderly, in addition to other long-term conditions, the levels of PM2.5 and PM10 were significantly associated with an increase in the rate of covid-19 infections .
Every 1 microgram per cubic meter increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 was associated with a 5% increase in the number of new cases of COVID-19 infections, equivalent to 294 cases per 100,000 people per year.
The research team also observed that stronger effects of pollutants were identified on the rates of coronavirus infections among people aged 55 to 64 and 65 to 74.
They also warned that this is an observational study with which causes cannot be established.
“Our findings provide the first strong empirical evidence for the path of hypotheses linking long-term exposure to air pollution with the incidence of covid-19, and deserve future generalization in different contexts,” they conclude.
Experts believe that “government efforts to further reduce air pollution levels can help mitigate the burden of COVID-19 on public health.”
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