Study links coronavirus mortality to air pollution exposure


A new study published Friday is the latest linking pollution exposure to a greater risk of dying from the coronavirus.

The study published by IOP found that an increase in the concentration of multiple pollutants from a class known as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) was associated with a 9 percent increase in COVID-19 mortality. 

The study also linked diesel exhaust, soot and smog, as well as substances known as naphthalene and acetaldehyde on their own, to increased coronavirus mortality rates. 

Low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to live in areas with greater pollution rates and have also been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

The study linked a 0.5 microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in the concentration of diesel exhaust to a 182 percent increase in the mortality rate. It also linked a 0.3-microgram-per-cubic-meter increase of naphthalene to a 791 percent increase in mortality rate.

Per the study, an increase in soot of one microgram per cubic meter is associated with a 7 percent increase in mortality rate. Similarly, a Harvard study from earlier this year linked exposure to soot to a greater risk of dying from the virus. 

The new study, by researchers at the State University of New York College and ProPublica, found that a 1 part per billion increase in ozone concentration, commonly called smog, was linked to a 2 percent increase in mortality. 

And it linked a 0.9-microgram-per-cubic-meter increase in acetaldehyde with a 24 percent increase in coronavirus deaths. 

According to ProPublica, the researchers examined air pollution and COVID-19 deaths from about 3,100 counties.

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