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Air pollution linked to 15% of coronavirus deaths
Published on: 2020-10-28
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air pollution 01

Long-term exposure to air pollution may be linked to 15 percent of COVID-19 deaths globally, according to research published on Tuesday that highlights the health risks posed by greenhouse gas emissions.

Previous research has showed how air pollution from exhaust fumes and factories takes two years off the life expectancy of every man, woman and child on Earth. Now experts in Germany and Cyprus say they have estimated the proportion of deaths from coronavirus that can be blamed of the exacerbating effects of air pollution.

Their study, published in the journal Cardiovascular Research, drew on health and disease data from the US and China relating to air pollution, COVID-19 and SARS - a serious lung disease similar to COVID-19.

They combined this with satellite data of global exposure to particulate matter - microscopic particles - as well as ground-based pollution monitoring networks, to calculate to what extent air pollution can be blamed for COVID-19 deaths.

air pollution 02Heat map showing estimated percentage of COVID-19 deaths attributed to air pollution from man-made sources (top) and fossil fuel use only (bottom)

In East Asia, which has some of the highest levels of harmful pollution on the planet, the authors found that 27 percent of COVID-19 deaths could be attributed to the health effects of poor air quality.

In Europe the proportion was 19 percent, compared with 17 percent in North America.

"If both long-term exposure to air pollution and infection with the COVID-19 virus come together then we have an adverse effect on health, particularly with respect to the heart and blood vessels," said paper coauthor Thomas Munzel.

He said that air pollution made known COVID-19 risk factors such as lung and heart problems more likely.

air pollution 03Specifically, the team noted that particulate matter appeared to increase the activity of a receptor on lung cell surfaces, ACE-2, which is known to be involved in the way COVID-19 infects patients.

"So we have a double hit: Air pollution damages the lungs and increases the activity of ACE-2, which in turn leads to enhanced uptake of the virus," said Munzel, a professor at the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz.

The authors stressed that attributing COVID-19 deaths to air pollution did not mean that pollution itself was killing people with COVID-19 - though they didn't rule out such a cause-effect linkage.

15%的新冠肺炎死亡病例与长期暴露在空气污染中有关

近日,一项由德国与塞浦路斯的研究人员开展的研究表明,15%的新冠肺炎死亡病例与长期暴露在遭污染的空气中有关。

该研究于27日发表在《心血管研究》医学杂志上。在研究中,德国与塞浦路斯的研究人员分析了美国等国有关空气污染、新冠肺炎以及非典型性肺炎的卫生与疾病数据。同时,研究人员还利用卫星探测的全球空气污染数据以及地面探测空气污染物的网络,以计算何种空气污染会导致新冠肺炎患者病亡。结果显示,在东亚,27%的新冠肺炎死亡病例与长期暴露在空气污染中有关,在欧洲这一比例为19%,北美则为17%。

研究表明,空气中的污染物颗粒可能会使得人体在感染新冠病毒后出现“可导致致命后果的症状”。“假使长期暴露在空气污染中,且感染性了新冠病毒,那么这会对我们的健康,尤其是心血管健康,产生不利影响。” 该研究的合著者托马斯•蒙泽尔(Thomas Munzel)说道。

蒙泽尔强调,空气污染物似乎增强了肺细胞表面受体ACE-2的活性,而ACE-2已知与人体感染新冠病毒有关。

研究指出,鉴于空气污染会提升新冠肺炎患者的病亡几率,因而当下各国必须减少空气污染物的排放。

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