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Air pollution intensifies Covid-19 impact, mirroring decade-older age

Scientists advocate for air pollution reduction, emphasizing its potential to improve health outcomes amidst pandemics and flu season


Key points from article :

New studies reveal that exposure to air pollution prior to contracting Covid-19 has made the disease feel as if patients are 10 years older, increasing their hospital stay by four days.

Belgian and Danish research associated air pollution with a 36% and 23% increased risk of needing intensive care and death from Covid-19, respectively.

These studies focused on individual patients, providing stronger evidence for the connection between air pollution and Covid-19 severity, compared to previous group-based studies.

Air pollution aggravates respiratory diseases by increasing lung inflammation, weakening immune defences, and worsening pre-existing lung problems.

Reducing air pollution can significantly decrease illness and deaths during future outbreaks of respiratory diseases, including the annual flu season.

The studies suggest that lowering air pollution, even when at relatively low levels, could alleviate the strain on healthcare workers during pandemics.

In contrast to many previous studies that used averaged population data, these recent studies monitored the illness and air pollution exposure in individual patients.

The Belgian study found that a lower level of air pollution resulted in health improvements equivalent to 40-80% of the benefits of medicines used to treat Covid, such as remdesivir.

Research by Hasselt University and University of Copenhagen both published in European Respiratory Journal.

Mentioned in this article:

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European Respiratory Journal (ERJ)

Medical journal covering respirology

Hasselt University

Public research university.

University of Copenhagen

Public research university

Topics mentioned on this page:
Air Pollution, Coronavirus
Air pollution intensifies Covid-19 impact, mirroring decade-older age