Another Good Reason to Keep our Air Fresher and Cleaner

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

The planet is enjoying an extraordinary moment of rejuvenation due to the drastic reduction in pollution caused by the lockdown.

The general consensus is that we're all going to have to think about and live with coronavirus issues for a very long time and, of course, insist that our governments prepare and get properly organised before the next ghastly occurrence happens, as it surely will.

Whilst that's hardly an upbeat statement, the upside for us all might just be that we're going to insist that we live in environments with cleaner, fresher air and, therefore, significantly less pollution. That's good news for us, the planet, climate change and global warming - all rolled into one.

How can we insist? Well, research shows almost 80% of deaths across four countries were in its most polluted regions.

High levels of air pollution may be “one of the most important contributors” to deaths from Covid-19, according to research. The analysis shows that of the coronavirus deaths across 66 administrative regions in Italy, Spain, France and Germany, 78% of them occurred in just five regions, and these were the most polluted.

The research examined levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced mostly by diesel vehicles, and weather conditions that can prevent dirty air from dispersing away from a city. Milan (pictured above), for example, is in a bowl and sheltered by mountains - making it notoriously smoggy as fresh air struggles to flush the atmosphere.

Many studies have linked NO2 exposure to health damage, and particularly lung disease, which could make people more likely to die if they contract Covid-19.

“The results indicate that long-term exposure to this pollutant may be one of the most important contributors to fatality caused by the Covid-19 virus in these regions and maybe across the whole world,” said Yaron Ogen, at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, who conducted the research. “Poisoning our environment means poisoning our own body, and when it experiences chronic respiratory stress its ability to defend itself from infections is limited.”

The analysis is only able to show a strong correlation, not a causal link. “It is now necessary to examine whether the presence of an initial inflammatory condition is related to the response of the immune system to the coronavirus,” Ogen said.

Everyone knows that living in a polluted environment is not good for your health. If it's shown that doing so is a significant factor in the likelihood of succumbing to Covid-19 and similar respiratory related diseases, then surely this is yet another powerful reason for the world to come together and seriously concentrate on drastic reductions to pollution. So, good news stories like the ones below, stop becoming good news stories and start being the 'new normal'.

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