Two newly released studies – one focusing on Europe and the other on the US – have found an alarming correlation between levels of pollution and death rates from the coronavirus.
In the European study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, coronavirus deaths across 66 administrative regions of Italy, France, Spain and Germany were analysed. It found that 78 percent of the deaths occurred in just five regions – those five regions were the most polluted.
The other study, published by Harvard University, collected air quality data from 3,000 counties across the US and concluded that just a slight increase in PM2.5, atmospheric particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, which is about 3 percent of the diameter of a human hair, was associated with a 15 percent increase in COVID-19 deaths.
The devastating impact of air pollution on our health seems clearer now than ever. And it is not just coronavirus. From mothers holding babies suffering from respiratory illnesses in hospitals in Afghanistan and Mongolia, to an Italian city covered in toxic dust and workers breathing in toxic fumes in Bangladesh and Kenya, we explore the impact of air pollution on human health.