Air pollution linked to spike in COVID-19 death rate

COVID-19 patients living in areas with high air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die than those living is parts of the country with low air pollution, a new study shows.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, examined data on county-level COVID-19 deaths and long-term exposure to fine particulate matter in the air, known as PM 2.5, which poses a high risk to human health when inhaled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Researchers examined data for 3,000 U.S. counties through April 4.

The study shows that an increase of 1 microgram per cubic meter in PM 2.5 was linked to a 15 percent increase in the COVID-19 death rate.

Researchers also estimated that if Manhattan in New York City had lowered its average fine particulate matter level by just one unit in the last 20 years, it might have recorded 248 fewer COVID-19 deaths at this point in the pandemic, The New York Times reports.

 

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