Studies show that an unvaccinated person is at increased risk of contracting the coronavirus, and an older, overweight, or weakened immune system can make the disease worse. Scientists now believe that there is a risk factor for contracting the coronavirus and another risk factor that could lead to poor outcomes: the effects of air pollution.
Growing evidence suggests a link between contaminated air and respiration and the risk of coronavirus infection, development of severe disease, or death from covid-19. Although most of these studies focus on the long-term effects of air pollution, experts say that short-term effects can also have a negative impact.
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A recent study of 425 young adults in Sweden found that the short-term effects were “associated with a risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 infection, despite relatively low levels of air pollution,” according to a paper published in April. Unlike many other studies that analyzed vulnerable populations such as infants or young children and traced the effects of long-term exposure on the elderly and mortality, the average age of participants who reported mostly mild to moderate symptoms was about 25 years. years old.
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Eric Melen, chief researcher and professor of clinical science and education at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, said the results suggest that “in fact, such effects can be harmful to anyone.”
Jebin Yu, co-author of the study and a researcher at the Karolinska Institute, said the study was based on people who had not been vaccinated in the earlier stages of the pandemic. Thus, he said, the results may not apply to the latest variants of the coronavirus, such as omicron and vaccinated people.
The findings add to the notion that “there is no safe limit or no safe limit for air pollution” when it comes to health effects, including the dangers of covid, said Olena Gruzieva, an associate professor at the Karolinska Institute. to study.
Researchers are still trying to determine how air pollution can increase the risk of coagulopathy. But there are some theories.
The effects of pollutants, such as inflammation and oxidative stress, are linked to an imbalance in the body – both of which can exacerbate a person’s reaction to a virus, including a coronavirus, said Meredith McCormack, a spokeswoman for the American Lung Medical Association.
Another theory suggests that breathing polluted air helps the virus penetrate deeper into the body or cells, added McCormack, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins. Contamination can also impair the immune response.
Alison Lee said that in many studies showing the impact on Coved, the impact of pollution documented below is generally the current regulatory standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Lee is a lung specialist at Mount Sinai in New York, who has published research on air pollution and covid.
According to McCormack and other experts, it is important for individuals and governments to work to reduce air pollution in order to protect themselves in times of poor air quality.
“The transition to a green economy with renewable energy sources will really protect both the environment and the health of the population, and this is closely linked to the crisis of climate change,” said Donghai Liang, Emory University’s assistant for environmental health and epidemiology. University.
Concerns about air pollution and covid have been around since the early months of the pandemic. Harvard University’s June 2020 study of coronavirus data from the United States counties found a “slight increase in the long-term effects” of particulate matter, one of the most subtle forms of air pollution. A big increase in the mortality rate of Covid-19. “
Another U.S. county-level data study in the first few months of the pandemic found that chronic exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), air pollution from traffic and power plants, and a significant increase in cove deaths and deaths were linked.
“If we had done better sooner, we could have reduced the long-term effects of NO2 by 10 percent, preventing more than 14,000 deaths among people who tested positive for the virus by July 2020,” said Liang, the study’s lead author.
Researchers and external experts note that such observational population studies do not take into account individual risk factors that affect a person’s chances of becoming seriously ill or dying after being infected with the coronavirus.
Kai Chen, a Yale School assistant, said the “cruel treatment” is to follow people over a period of time and become infected with the virus, then develop severe covid symptoms and require hospitalization or death control. Research Director, Yale Center for Public Health and Climate Change and Health.
He and other experts called for additional research to clarify some key issues.
“There is still uncertainty about the magnitude of the risk,” McCormack said. “In order to increase air pollution on a given day, will this increase your risk of getting covid by 1 percent or 5 percent, more than 5 percent? These calculations are still being refined.”
Researchers also need to determine exactly what can affect a person’s risk of contracting a coronavirus and the severity of the infection, Chen said, citing a study that showed that certain meteorological factors, such as humidity, can affect the virus’s ability to spread. If the main confusing variable in the statistical analysis of the study is not monitored, it could lead to an overestimation of the impact of air pollution, he said.
In addition, the study of the potential harm of short-term exposure should be continued, Lee said. “It’s important to see short-term data because it fills in the gaps in important data and has an impact on policy.”
Because long-term data averages long-term exposures, it can “hide the sharp increase in exposure,” Lee said. Low-income communities and people of color, many of whom live close to air pollution sources, are more likely to suffer from such sharp increases. “By strengthening long-term and short-term standards for air quality and installing more regulatory monitors in the hotspots of this exposition, we can improve the health of environmental justice communities,” he said.
According to McCormack, it is unclear whether the increased exposure to pollutants is responsible for the health-related imbalances in these communities that are severely affected by the coronavirus. “We still don’t have a study that addresses all the factors,” he said, “but we do know that we have evidence by quantitatively assessing the impact of air pollution on Kovid infection. The differences we see – but these are just a few.”
Experts believe that the findings linking air quality to cove will help bring the issue of air pollution to the forefront of public awareness.
“Air pollution is like a silent pandemic,” Chen said. Although the effects of pollution are well-known, few people know that indoor and outdoor air pollution causes an estimated 7 million premature deaths worldwide each year and is linked to lung and heart disease, among other serious health problems.
However, the coronavirus pandemic “really increased awareness of the importance of fresh air,” McCormack said.
Lee agreed. “The main conclusion from all of this research is that air pollution is bad and we have to fight for more protection standards for air quality,” he said.
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