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Nov 16th, 2020 by Admin

Air Pollution Effects: 11% Higher Risk of Death from COVID-19

For the past six months, our world has been registering the highest number of deaths due to coronavirus. With no concrete solution found to tackle the virus, the pandemic seems to be continuing into the next year.

While the pandemic is spreading far and wide, the people with health issues are found to be the ones who are most affected. However, in a recent study from researchers at Harvard University, it’s found that people who live in high air pollution areas are more likely to die when they get exposed to coronavirus.

This damning research comes at a time when air pollution is one of the top factors for the rise in global warming and climate change happening around the world. Air pollution, by itself, has been causing severe harm to many people. And with complications of coronavirus, the repercussions have multiplied. Air pollution can also have a serious effect on people’s recovery and aggravate health conditions.

Air Pollution Effects on Health

air pollution health effects

Every year, air pollution kills an estimated 7 million people worldwide, according to WHO. 9 out of 10 people are breathing air with the pollution that exceeds the WHO guideline limits.

Such long-term exposure to air pollution will reduce life expectancy due to cardiovascular, respiratory and lung diseases. Even short-term exposure to air pollutants can lead to asthma and other respiratory issues. These health problems caused by air pollution are often the beginning of the deterioration of one’s health and further complicates any other health conditions or diseases like the coronavirus.

Most of this air pollution caused is manmade. The release of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other particulate matter into our atmosphere results in adverse health issues from newborns to older people.

1. The particulate matter is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as carcinogenic to humans. When it gets deposited in the lungs, it can lead to severe respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
2. Nitrogen dioxide, when exposed for long durations, can lead to shortness of breath, cough, and eventually lead to lung diseases. This is particularly harmful to young children and toddlers as it can affect their lung functions early on.
3. Carbon monoxide exposure at high levels can be fatal and lead to flu, viral diseases and food poisoning.

There are more such pollutants like sulphur dioxide and ammonia that cause serious issues in our respiratory functions and can further complicate the health issues like COVID-19.

Link Between Air Pollution and Coronavirus

covid patient

In recent research by Harvard, with data collected from 3,089 counties by John Hopkins University, shows the severity of the coronavirus due to air pollution.

The research focused on the tiny particles less than 2.5 micrometers in size generated through various sources, usually addressed as PM2.5. These particles are usually polluted by construction sites, fires, unpaved roads, vehicle exhausts, etc. According to the research, even a small increase of 1 microgram per cubic meter can increase the chances of death by coronavirus by 11%.

The research found that the high pollution levels of PM2.5 in some areas are more than 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air, which is far above the mean of 8.4.

When a person is exposed to such particles regularly in high volumes, it can accumulate in the lungs and leads to serious health complications. By combining these health complications with the already present coronavirus can prove fatal for many.

While this research solely focused on the coronavirus cases in the United States, the wide research can be conclusively taken to link air pollution and COVID-19 mortality worldwide.

Since coronavirus targets the lungs, people with previous respiratory and lung issues due to air pollution are more prone to contract the virus and worsen the situation.


While coronavirus by itself is proving to be fatal for many, the added issue of air pollution is further complicating the issue and increasing mortality. Air pollution is proving to be a huge issue for lives on earth, both directly and indirectly. Air pollution effects combined with the COVID-19 conditions are a huge health risk that further increases mortality.

Until we come together to make a change, this rise in air pollution will be a serious health issue that threatens our very survival.

At Plastic Collectors, we are working towards making our world pollution-free as it was before. Plastic Collectors is a global organization run by a group of motivated people from different parts of life to combat plastic pollution. By providing incentives and creating employment opportunities for the poor people for collecting plastic waste, we are trying to free the world of plastic pollution, one at a time. If you want to be a part of our team, you can reach out to us here.

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