Air pollution helps COVID transmission, finds study

In cities, more than half of the air pollution is caused due to vehicular emissions, adding that during the lockdown, there was a large reduction in the number of vehicles on road.   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

Air pollution indirectly influences the transmission of COVID-19 and the improvement in air quality during the lockdown may have reduced the chances of infection, a study has found.

This finding was part of a research paper titled ‘Potential link between compromised air quality and transmission of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in affected areas’ published in Environmental Research journal by M.G. Manoj, M.K. Satheesh Kumar, K.T. Valsaraj, C. Sivan and Soumya K. Vijayan.

They belong to the Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Ernakulam; The Department of Atomic and Molecular Physics, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka; Cain Department of Chemical Engineering, Louisiana State University, Los Angeles, U.S.; and College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Government Medical College, Kannur, respectively.

The study focussed on the infection rate induced by air quality in central Kerala and other global COVID hotspots, including China, Italy and the U.S.

Potential modes

It claims that one of the potential modes of transmission of COVID-19 is through ambient air by droplets which carry the viruses. This means that changes in the environment will affect the transmission of the infection. Air pollution is one of the elements that can change the environment. So it can be said that air pollution can indirectly influence the transmission.

The dust particles exposed to humid environment have been contaminated with a water film on it. There is a possibility of the mix of saliva droplets and the dust coated with the water film becoming more airborne and spreading the infection.

The researchers pointed out that the improvement in air quality during the lockdown period might have restricted the transmission of the infection in some places. The hypothesis would help design protocols for the prevention of future pandemics, they added.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 3:15:57 PM |

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