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Study shows pollution increases risk of severe Covid-19 cases

Study shows pollution increases risk of severe Covid-19 cases

Air pollution may increase the risk of severe Covid-19 cases (Photo: Unsplash)

People who live in places with high levels of air pollutants nitrogen dioxide more likely to develop severe cases of covid-19 and admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) or require mechanical ventilation. This finding is from a study conducted by German researchers.

Our results show a positive association between long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide and the resulting incidence and mortality COVID-19’,” said the team responsible for the work, led by Susan Koch, of the University of Berlin, University Hospital Berlin.

To conduct the study, specialists reviewed air pollution data from every municipality in Germany with information from patients who required ICU treatment or mechanical ventilation for one month in 2020. After the analysis, the scientists found an average of 144 ICU beds and 102 beds. Ventilators were needed for patients with coronavirus in the 10 cities with the highest long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide. For the 10 least exposed cities, 28 ICU beds and 19 ventilators were needed, The Guardian explained.

The researchers acknowledged that the survey did not prove a causal relationship between air pollution and severe Covid-19. However, they suggested a plausible causal relationship that could explain the relationship between disease and atmospheric nitrogen dioxide levels.

covid-19 x pollution

According to the scientists, Ace-2 may be one of the keys to understanding the relationship between infection severity and pollution. When it gets into cells, after someone has been infected, the coronavirus binds to the Ace-2 receptor. This receptor is responsible, among other important functions, for helping the body to regulate levels of angiotensin II, a protein that increases inflammation. In other words, it helps stop inflammation. However, when the pathogen binds to it, this no longer occurs.

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Air pollution is also known to cause a release similar to controls on angiotensin II. Therefore, the combination of Covid-19 and long-term exposure to air pollution would result in more severe inflammation and, therefore, more need for intensive care units and mechanical ventilation.

“Exposure to ambient air pollution can contribute to a number of other conditions, including heart attacks, strokes, asthma and lung cancer, and will continue to harm health long after the Covid-19 epidemic is over,” Koch said. “There is an urgent need to transition to renewable energy, clean transportation and sustainable agriculture to improve air quality. Reducing emissions will not only help reduce the climate crisis, but will also improve the health and quality of life for people around the world.”

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