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Air pollution is linked to greater Covid-19 risk

Air pollution is linked to a greater risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation, according to researchers at Imperial College London. 

In a new review commissioned by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, researchers evaluated studies from all around the world. 

The review confirmed that exposure to air pollution before the pandemic increased the risk of hospital admission if a person became infected with Covid-19. 

This is most likely because air pollution contributes to people having heart or lung disease and they then become sicker from Covid-19 if they catch it. 

The researchers also confirmed that exposure to air pollution might increase the likelihood of contracting Covid-19. More widely there is also pre-existing evidence to suggest that exposure to air pollution also increases susceptibility to, and worsens the outcome from a range of infectious lung diseases, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

Sadiq Khan, said: ’We already know that air pollution is linked to life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease and asthma. But until now previous studies have underestimated the role air pollution plays in infectious diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis and most recently Covid-19.

‘This new review led by Imperial researchers makes it crystal clear that tackling air pollution is a vital part of building our resilience to Covid-19 and other infections like it. The decisions we make now to tackle air pollution are truly a matter of life and death.

‘We cannot turn a blind eye to the clear evidence showing the dangers of toxic air pollution. That’s why I’m committed to expanding the Ultra-Low Emission Zone next month, and why I will continue to take the bold action necessary to eradicate pollution from our city.’

man in white t-shirt and black shorts standing on black bench during daytime

Professor Paul Plant, Public Health England’s deputy director for London, added: ‘This is a welcome review of the literature with important tentative conclusions on the potential links between poor air quality and Covid-19.

‘Poor air quality particularly affects people who are more vulnerable to respiratory harm including those with heart and lung disease, children and the elderly, and exacerbates health inequalities. Improving air quality is crucial to reducing the health impacts of air pollution across London and will help people live longer, healthier lives beyond the pandemic.’

Photo by Victor He

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