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In my previous post, I already had a hunch correlating air pollution to the quantity of coronavirus infected people in a zone. A position paper from ‘The Italian Society of Environmental Medicine’ (SIMA) just confirmed what I feared.

Particulate pollution can speed up the spreading of Coronavirus.
The particles (PM10 and PM2.5) are known as carriers because they haul chemicals but also viruses. Consequently, they can progress for a longer distance. Furthermore, the composition of the particle, a mix between solid and liquid, protect the virus and enable its action.

To back up this affirmation, the study quotes papers about the correlation between the number of infections of bird flu, respiratory syncytial virus, measles, and PM10 and PM2.5 concentration.

They also confronted data from the Italian ARPA (The Regional Environmental Protection Agency that monitors pollution on a regional level) and Coronavirus cases reported by civil defence.

PM10 overruns in Italian provinces
PM10 overruns in Italian provinces from 10 to 29 February (left) and coronavirus infections 3 to 6 of March

The linear relationship between PM10 exceedance and the number of infections is quite evident. This emphasizes the fact that more polluted is the air higher is the risk of getting sick. (See graph below)

I find it also very interesting to give a closer look at the curves that show the progress of infections in different regions. This type of research helps to understand how contagion travels, through people’s contact or by the presence of particulate pollution acting as a carrier.

On the Graph below we notice that the Po Valley, the region with the highest pollution level, has a hastening of the Coronavirus contamination.

Such results demonstrate that particulate pollution could have been responsible for its diffusion.

Then again, we already know that this kind of pollution implies many risks for health. Moreover, respiratory malfunctions, chronic bronchitis, premature deaths are associated with living in areas with high levels of particulate pollution.

But which is the most significant source of particulates pollution in the Po Valley? We would all think of transports. Still, is it the principal responsible?

In the next post>>>

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More studies confirm the relationship between COVID-19 and air pollution.