Air pollution can raise risk of Covid-19 death 51%, study says

By Pam Strayer

People who are live in areas that come with long-term exposure to high levels of air pollution face a 50% higher chance of dying from Covid-19, and thousands of lives could have been saved during the pandemic if air quality standards were met, a new public health research study has found.

The study, which focused on California residents, is the latest of several exploring the impacts of air pollution on the incidence and severity of Covid-19 infections. And the research adds to a growing body of global research highlighting the importance of reducing air pollution.

The researchers determined that 9%, or at least 4,250 Covid-19 deaths could have been prevented if California met national air quality standards.

The most vulnerable people in terms of air pollution exposure were likely to be Latinos and those living in low-income areas, the researchers found.

The study, published in Environmental Advances, was authored by Paul English, director of the Public Health Institute and its “Tracking California” program, along with ten other researchers, including some affiliated with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) department of medicine and the UCSF department of epidemiology and biostatistics.

“People of color live in communities that have some of the worst air pollution and also have greater chances of getting sick and even greater chances of dying from COVID,” English said in a release announcing the study.