A new analysis of more than 3,000 counties in the United States has found that people with long-term exposure to fine particle pollutants may be more likely to die from COVID-19, findings that may prompt policymakers to reconsider the harms of air pollution and help reduce deaths during the pandemic.
The research, published in the journal Science Advances, investigated the impact of long-term exposure to PM 2.5 pollutants – tiny particles in the air two and a half microns or less wide – on COVID-19 death rate in 3,089 counties in the United States, “covering 98% of the population.”
It found that “historical higher exposure” to these particulate pollutants is associated with higher COVID-19 death rates at the county level after taking into account several area-level risk factors.
Although the study cannot provide information on the underlying mechanism of the relationship, scientists, including those at Harvard University in the United States, believe that chronic exposure to PM 2.5 may cause an overproduction of the ACE-2 receptor in the lungs, which the new coronavirus uses to enter host cells.
They believe that prolonged exposure to air pollution can also damage people’s immune systems.
“Chronic exposure to PM2.5 causes overexpression of alveolar ACE-2 receptors and impairs host defenses. This could cause a more severe form of COVID-19 in ACE-2-depleted lungs, increasing the likelihood of poor results, including death, “according to the scientists writing in the study.
Citing the study’s limitations, the scientists said they were unable to adjust for individual-level risk factors such as age, race and smoking because such data was not available. not available.
“This approach leaves us unable to draw any conclusions regarding associations at the individual level,” the scientists said.
However, the researchers said the scans provide strong rationale for follow-up investigations as more and more and better COVID-19 data becomes available.
“Research into how modifiable factors can exacerbate symptoms of COVID-19 and increase the risk of death is essential to guide policies and behaviors to minimize pandemic-related deaths,” they noted in the research.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)