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Covid-19 death rate rises in US counties with high air pollution, study says

You are more likely to die from Covid-19 if you live in a county in the United States with higher levels of long-term air pollution, according to new research released Tuesday by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“We found that an increase of only 1 gram per cubic meter in fine particulate matter in the air was associated with a 15% increase in the Covid-19 death rate,” said lead author Francesca Dominici, co-director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative.
The study defined high pollution levels as fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) levels above 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air, much higher than the US mean of 8.4.
“The results suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe Covid-19 outcomes,” Dominici said.
While the study was focussed on the US, it could have implications for other countries, too. India, for instance has 21 of the world’s 30 cities with the worst air pollution.
American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer said that the study’s findings illustrate that “far too many Americans are facing multiple threats to their lung health at once, and when taken together, these different threats to lung health impacts can amplify each other.”
“We cannot afford to delay cleanup of dangerous air pollution,” he said. “In fact, it is more important than ever.”