Study Links Covid-19 Death Rates to Air Pollution

A study conducted recently by researchers of the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that air pollution increases the Covid-19 death rate of a region.

Using scientific methods and data collected from about 3,000 U.S. counties to build models that could forecast Covid-19 deaths in relation to levels of long-term PM2.5 exposure per county, lead authors Xiao Wu MS and Rachel C. Nethery PhD wrote that even a minimal increase in long-term exposure, can yield a large increase in COVID-19 death rate.

Their conclusion estimated that the magnitude of even a small increase in PM2.5 could be 20 times greater than what is usually observed for PM2.5 in an all-cause mortality rate. That being a scientifically proven fact, the study gives emphasis on the importance of continuing the enforcement of air pollution regulations currently in place. That way human health can be strengthened and at the same time protected during and after incidents of health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is Particulate Matter 2.5 and How Does it Affect Human Health

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, air pollutants that scientists call Particulate Matters 2.5 or PM2.5, have long been a cause for public health concern, most especially in areas where the presence of fine particles in the air, is high.

Particulate Matters 2.5 or PM2.5 are particles of air pollutants that come in a micron size. The Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Health (DOH) describe the dirt particles as so minute they can pack a single period found at the end of a sentence.

High levels of PM2.5 pollution in an area is evident when outdoor visibility is reduced while the atmosphere appears hazy. Elevated PM2.5 levels are likely to occur during days when there is no wind or when very little air mixing transpires. As part of air pollution regulations, State Departments issue a warning advisory whenever concentrations of PM2.5 are expected to reach unhealthy levels for people with sensitive health conditions.

Earlier scientific studies have already proven that fine particles come in size ranges that can travel and enter respiratory tracts, and small enough to reach the lungs. Exposure to the micron-sized pollutants can cause adverse short-term health effects like irritations in the nose, throat, lung and/or eyes. Such unhealthy effects are manifested by way of sneezing, coughing and runny nose that could lead to shortness of breath. Moreover, high levels of PM2.5 pollutants are of greater concern for people with existing medical conditions like asthma and cardiovascular disease.

The Covid-19 Crisis Provided Proof that Atmospheric Air can Improve by Eliminating Major Producers of Air Pollutants

When governments ordered lockdowns and shelter-in-place measures to prevent the exponential spread of the Covid-19 disease, the absence of vehicles on roads brought notable improvements in the atmosphere and quality of air. Such an outcome all the more strengthened the resolve of many governments, to pursue goals of replacing petrol and diesel-fueled vehicles with electrically powered vehicles in their respective region.

The development and manufacture of EVs or electric vehicles was actually spurred by the need to reduce greenhouse gases that have been identified as major drivers of global warming and its resulting climate change. The elimination of fossil fuel combustion is also seen as one of the means to reduce particulate matters polluting the air.

As an aside, I have also found the use of electric cars more economical and convenient. If in case my car runs out of electrical power before reaching a charging station, all I need to ask as roadside assistance from a towing sanjose service is to send a unit equipped with an EV battery pack charger.