A person who lives for decades in a county with high levels of fine particulate matter PM2.5 is 15 percent more likely to die from a coronavirus infection than someone in a region with one less unit of fine particulate contamination.
This is what a new study at the United States level claims that offers the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and death rates from Covid-19 .
Extremely small air pollutants, known as PM2.5, are particles 25 times smaller than the width of a human hair , and are the result of activities such as burning fossil fuels and agriculture. Air pollution kills about 100,000 Americans per year, and they take more lives than car accidents and homicides combined.
And it also makes those infected by coronavirus more likely to die , according to the data provided by the aforementioned study.
So, for example, the District of Columbia is likely to have a higher death rate than the adjacent Montgomery County. Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, should be worse than nearby Lake County, Illinois.
This Harvard University study is the first nationwide to show this statistical link , revealing a ‘large overlap’ between deaths from Covid-19 and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to fine particulate matter.
The study also reveals that if Manhattan had lowered its average particulate level by a single unit, or one microgram per cubic meter, over the past 20 years, the district likely would have seen 248 fewer Covid-19 deaths in the current outbreak .
Therefore, the research could also have significant implications for how public health officials choose to allocate resources such as ventilators and respirators as the coronavirus spreads.