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Regional and global contributions of air pollution to risk of death from COVID-19

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Pozzer,  Andrea
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Lelieveld,  Jos
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Pozzer, A., Dominici, F., Haines, A., Witt, C., Münzel, T., & Lelieveld, J. (2020). Regional and global contributions of air pollution to risk of death from COVID-19. Cardiovascular Research, 116: cvaa288. doi:10.1093/cvr/cvaa288.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-4AB3-C
Abstract
Aims The risk of mortality from the coronavirus disease that emerged in 2019 (COVID-19) is increased by comorbidity from cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. Air pollution also causes excess mortality from these conditions. Analysis of the first severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-1) outcomes in 2003, and preliminary investigations of those for SARS-CoV-2 since 2019, provide evidence that the incidence and severity are related to ambient air pollution. We estimated the fraction of COVID-19 mortality that is attributable to the long-term exposure to ambient fine particulate air pollution. Methods and results We characterized global exposure to fine particulates based on satellite data, and calculated the anthropogenic fraction with an atmospheric chemistry model. The degree to which air pollution influences COVID-19 mortality was derived from epidemiological data in the USA and China. We estimate that particulate air pollution contributed ∼15% (95% confidence interval 7–33%) to COVID-19 mortality worldwide, 27% (13 – 46%) in East Asia, 19% (8–41%) in Europe, and 17% (6–39%) in North America. Globally, ∼50–60% of the attributable, anthropogenic fraction is related to fossil fuel use, up to 70–80% in Europe, West Asia, and North America. Conclusion Our results suggest that air pollution is an important cofactor increasing the risk of mortality from COVID-19. This provides extra motivation for combining ambitious policies to reduce air pollution with measures to control the transmission of COVID-19.