Do you know that exposure to air pollution increases the rate of COVID-19? Research has shown that areas prone to excessive air pollution have an increased rate of COVID-19. It is no news to us that unhealthy air causes chronic illness in the human body. This explains why some places have high cases of coronavirus than others. One of the reasons is air pollution. Many studies have been carried out and the result has shown that consistent exposure to pollutants like sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and many more can affect the proper functioning of the lungs. This can also cause respiratory illness. Also, the pollutant can cause a persistent inflammatory response in both young and old age. Thereby, increasing the risk of infection by viruses that target the respiratory tract.
Coronavirus is a viral disease that has to lead to a global pandemic. The pathogen that causes the virus affects the respiratory system causing respiratory illness. Therefore, toxicologists and virologists are now observing the link between polluted air and the pandemic.
Most of the hotspots of coronavirus are areas that have high exposure to air pollution. Study as shown that people living in cities that are greatly polluted have a high risk of contracting COVID-19 than those living in small villages and towns that are less polluted. Therefore, long term exposure to air pollution consequently leads to an increase in cases of coronavirus.
Pollutants that trigger diseases
Air pollution is a combination of gas and solid particles. Their composition also differs depending on the source of pollution. Our respiratory tract has a protective lining called cilia, which helps clear the airways from dirt and mucus. Constant exposure to air pollution leads to the total destruction of the cilia. More so, it also causes inflammation of the body and total cellular damage which causes many diseases such as stroke, asthma, cancer, heart attack, and many more. These pollutants especially the small ones can be inhaled deep inside the lungs. And then circulate into the bloodstream. Besides, air pollution leads to dysregulation in the immune system. Moreover, all these diseases increase the risk of COVID-19 which leads to death.
Effect of COVID-19
Everyone all over the globe is affected by this pandemic. Businesses and companies are in severe loss due to this lockdown. Most importantly, people of color are more vulnerable because they often live in communities that are adjacent companies and plantations that release pollutants and hazardous waste. They experience more pollution and tends to have most of the chronic diseases such as cancer, asthma, (to mention a few). Moreso, many couldn’t afford health care insurance and do not have access to better health care. This makes them more at risk to COVID-19.
It is therefore important to understand the type and effect of these pollutants and what level our body can tolerate. This will help us to understand how sensitive our body is to other diseases and COVID-19. Also, exposure to chronic smoke by workers in sectors such as mining, firefighters, and many more makes the body susceptible to coronavirus.
The level of pollution and coronavirus cases varies from one place to another, therefore it is difficult to estimate the exact relationship between them. But the ability to study these links in an individual allows toxicologists and virologists to be able to precisely remove the influence of age and health condition on the virus.
The solution is to find ways to prevent the effect of air pollution and also block its impact on the minimum level of humans. So, we will not be at risk when faced with infections such as coronavirus.