Air pollution linked with more cases, deaths from Covid-19

25 Avril, 2020, 05:27 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
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The Lung Association's annual air quality "report card" tracks Americans' exposure to unhealthy levels of particle pollution and ozone during a three-year period. And it ranked the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas as among the most polluted in the country.

Although this report does not cover data from 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of air pollution on lung health is of heightened concern.

Kevin Stewart, the Lung Association's director of environmental health, advocacy and public policy, said climate change can't be used to identify whether a single pollution event happens. Changing climate patterns also fuel wildfires and their risky smoke, which increases particle pollution.

Previous studies have pointed to a higher risk for older people or those with underlying health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer.

In addition, the team also found that reduced levels of another air pollutant, ozone, was linked with a greater number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.

"Therefore, climate change becomes a particular - at least, good - candidate as for why you might be seeing that particular change", he said. Typically, the city's overall Air Quality Index (AQI), which includes PM2.5 as well as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and more, falls somewhere between 100 and 300, on a scale from 1 to 500. "I think, with climate, there's a lot of that kind of trade-off that's sort of going on...which is very frustrating".

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and related shutdowns of non-essential businesses and schools that are reducing traffic, do appear to be making somewhat of a difference in Clark County's air quality.

Whatcom County received a "B" for ozone pollution, likely because wildfire smoke contributed to two days of higher-than-usual ozone readings in 2018, the air agency said. It also saw increases in its year-round average levels of fine particle pollution, raising it from 18th worst in last year's report to 12th worst in the 2020 report.

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Ozone and particle pollution are some of the most widespread air pollutants in the United States. Although China reported a short-term drop in air pollution, this decrease was short-lived, with levels returning to what they were before the lockdowns started. Here's how to decipher the air quality index (AQI) in your area - and what to do when the level becomes risky.

"There's been enormous progress", he said, "but what we've also learned is that there are health effects at pretty low levels".

Rome air pollution levels from mid-March to mid-April were down 49 percent from a year ago.

The Lung Association says ozone pollution can harm even healthy people, but is particularly unsafe for children, older adults and people with lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma.

"Particle pollution can lodge deep in the lungs and can even enter the bloodstream". Both ozone and particle pollution are risky to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage and developmental and reproductive harm. The area's year-round level of fine particle pollution dropped from 24th worst in the country past year to 41st worst in the current report.

If a county exceeds nine unhealthy air days on average for the year, it receives a failing grade.

Elsewhere, "The Morgantown-Fairmont metro area, where Monongalia County is, was the 50th best for the year-round measure in particle pollution", Haskins said. "Our leaders, both here in Montana and federally, must take immediate action to ward off climate change and other threats to the quality of the air we all breathe".

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