Air pollution linked to increase risk of ICU among Covid patients

Chronic exposure to air pollution may increase risks for ICU admission or death among Covid-19 patients, according to a study published by Mount Sinai School of Medicine. 

The researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of more than 6,5000 Covid-19 patients admitted to seven New York City hospitals with ethnically diverse patient populations. 

The researchers estimated exposure levels to pollutants at the residential addresses of the patients at the time of admission. 

The team then assessed patient outcomes including mortality, ICU admission and intubation. 

They found that chronic exposure to particulate matter (PM2.5), even at levels below current regulatory thresholds, was associated with an 11% higher risk of mortality and12% higher risk of admission to the ICU.

Visualization of the coronavirus causing COVID-19

Exploratory analyses suggested that younger people of colour may be particularly susceptible. 

Corresponding author Alison Lee said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the critical role of the environment on health disparities. These data suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution, even at concentrations below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulatory standards, is associated with higher Covid-19 morbidity and mortality amongst hospitalized patients.

‘Critically, air pollution is a modifiable risk factor. Policies to reduce air pollution must be considered a necessary public health measure, especially in communities that are disproportionately susceptible to air pollution’s deleterious effects.

‘There is a lot we still don’t know about coronavirus, being able to better understand what and how environmental factors play a role in New Yorkers’ health and Covid-19-associated risks not only allow us to better treat patients in the long-term, but also give us the opportunity to advocate for broader changes that can help prevent serious illness in the future.’





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Stephen Smith
Stephen Smith
2 years ago

This is a very helpful article Pippa. We’ve been working closely with doctors at Addenbrookes Hospital who have been trialling recirculating air purifiers with outstanding results – particularly the Maxvac Medi 10 was a proven killer of the Covid-19 virus when tested at Addenbrookes Covid ICU.

2 years ago
Reply to  Stephen Smith

Air purifiers are not the solution to air pollution (and by the time they’re in ICU it probably doesn’t make much difference anyway, compared to the years of exposure they’ve had in daily life).
You need to stop polluting air in the first place, not just clean it up afterwards (access to cleanup would still follow a rich/poor divide). And that cleanup in itself causes more pollution (both to produce the technology via mining and manufacturing, and the energy/resources to run and maintain the unit). I bet most of the doctors drive to work…

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