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Air pollution and COVID-19

Scientists have found that long-term exposure to urban air pollution may have made COVID-19 more deadly.

They analysed key urban air pollutants, including fine particle matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ozone (O3), across 3122 US counties from January to July. 

To examine the association between ambient air pollutants and the severity of COVID-19 outcomes, they investigated two major death outcomes, the case-fatality rate and the mortality rate. 

Of the pollutants analysed, NO2, had the strongest independent correlation with raising a person’s susceptibility to death from COVID-19. A 4.6 parts per billion (ppb) increase of NO2 in the air was associated with 11.3% and 16.2% increases in COVID-19 case-fatality and mortality rate, respectively. 

Donghai Liang, co-first author of the paper, said: “Both long-term and short-term exposure to air pollution has been associated with direct and indirect systemic impact on the human body.”  

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