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Air Pollution May Increase COVID Severity, Even For Vaccinated: Study

The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, estimated air pollution exposure levels for each participant based on their residential addresses

Air Pollution May Increase COVID Severity, Even For Vaccinated: Study
The researchers looked at average PM2.5, NO2, and ozone (O3) levels during the one-month and one-year periods before each patient received a COVID-19 diagnosis

Los Angeles: Exposure to air pollutants, in particular fine particles (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), increased the risk of hospitalisation in COVID-19 patients by up to 30 per cent, even for the fully vaccinated, according to a study. A team, including researchers from University of Southern California (USC), US, analysed medical records from patients at Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s (KPSC) Department of Research & Evaluation.

Across the health care network, 50,010 patients, aged 12 and above, were diagnosed with COVID-19 in July or August of 2021, when the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 was circulating and many people had been vaccinated.

These findings are important because they show that, while COVID-19 vaccines are successful at reducing the risk of hospitalisation, people who are vaccinated and exposed to polluted air are still at increased risk for worse outcomes than vaccinated people not exposed to air pollution, said Anny Xiang, study author and a senior research scientist at KPSC.

Also Read: Indoor Air Quality Can Be Affected By Cooking, Cleaning: Study

The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, estimated air pollution exposure levels for each participant based on their residential addresses.

The researchers looked at average PM2.5, NO2, and ozone (O3) levels during the one-month and one-year periods before each patient received a COVID-19 diagnosis.

We investigated both long-term and short-term air pollution exposure, which may influence COVID-19 severity through different mechanisms, said Zhanghua Chen, assistant professor at USC, and co-first author of the study.

Over the long term, pollution is linked to increase in cardiovascular and lung diseases, which are in turn associated with more severe COVID-19 symptoms, the researchers said.

Also Read: Air Pollution Can Increase Negative Effects Of Climate Change On Human Health: Study

In the short term, air pollution exposure may worsen inflammation in the lungs and could even alter the immune response to the virus, they said.

The team found that among 30,912 people who were unvaccinated, high short-term PM2.5 exposure increased the risk of COVID-19 hospitalisations by 13 per cent, while long-term exposure increased the risk by 24 per cent.

For NO2, short-term exposure raised hospitalisation risk by 14 per cent and long-term exposure raised the risk by 22 per cent, according to the researchers.

Ozone was not significantly associated with COVID-19 hospitalisations, they said. For those who were partially or fully vaccinated, the hospitalisation risks related to air pollution exposure were slightly lower — but the difference was not statistically significant.

Also Read: National Clean Air Programme: Centre Aims At 40 Per Cent Reduction In Particulate Matter By 2026

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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