Gretchen Goldman, Research Director, Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists blog, April 8, 2020.
A new study was made public yesterday that sheds light on the connection between COVID-19 health impacts and air pollution. I sat down (virtually of course) with Dr. Francesca Dominici, author and Director of the Data Science Initiative at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to learn more about the study’s findings, which focused on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and what researchers plan to do next to further our understanding of air pollution’s impact on coronavirus health outcomes.

Dr. Gretchen Goldman: These are groundbreaking new findings on the relationship between PM2.5 air pollution and COVID-19. What are the key findings?

Dr. Francesca Dominici: To our knowledge, this is the first study that quantifies on a national scale the potential increase in COVID mortality rate that is associated with long-term exposure to air pollution. We use data from counties that account for 90% of the COVID-19 deaths in the US as of April 4, 2020.

The most important result is that we found that people living in counties in the US that have experienced a higher level of air pollution over the past 15-17 years have a substantially higher COVID-19 mortality rate. To quantify, we found that a one unit increase in long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter is associated with a 15% increase in COVID-19 mortality rate on average in the analysis. This increase accounts for adjustments for any systematic differences between county level characteristics [such as population density or smoking rates].

Full Article HERE


Pittsburgh Post Gazette Article, Don Hopey, April 19, 2020:

Study finds link between air pollution and COVID-19 fatalities


Long-term exposure to higher concentrations of airborne particle pollution significantly increases the death rate for those infected with the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, according to a new Harvard University study.

The study, the first to assess the relationship between exposure to fine particles, known as PM2.5, and COVID-19 mortality, also is critical of the Trump administration’s plans to relax enforcement of pollution standards during the ongoing pandemic.