Health Council reveals link between air pollution and Covid-19
Covid-19 and the way countries limit the transfer of the virus have an impact on the environment. But the environment and air pollution in particular also have an impact on the level of infection. That is the conclusion of a new report from the Belgian National Health Council (Hoge GezondsheidsRaad, HGR).
Environmental effect studies show that there is a link between climatological and air pollution parameters on one side, and an increased level of infection, on the other. Covid-19 can be influenced by temperature and humidity. The higher the temperature, the slower the transmission. In winter, the coronavirus revives. The opposite is true as well: the higher the humidity levels, the faster the growth of infections.
Infection of the bronchi
And since Covid-19 is, first of all, an infection of the bronchi, it is no surprise that polluted air has a negative impact on the susceptibility to and the development of the disease. A small increase in the concentration of fine particles in the air already leads to a longer artificial respiration time in hospitalized Covid-19 patients and higher mortality (8-11%). The density of population might play a role too.
The report pleads for an interdisciplinary, holistic approach to map the effects of Covid-19. It shows the importance of interaction between the different fields of health that need to be studied to work out a coherent prevention and management strategy.
The lockdown, a measure that was imposed to limit social contacts and the risk of spreading the virus, affected the economy significantly. Many people all over the world lost their jobs, and numerous countries still struggle with the financial crater of the current support measures. On a mental level, many people are still suffering from psycho-social problems due to confinement and other corona measures.
However, many cities all over the world took advantage of the crisis and the lockdown measures with stunning – positive – effects on the environment. Traffic levels decreased, industrial activities came to a standstill, and CO2 emissions went down. Water and air quality improved spectacularly. The question is how we can protect or prolong these post-Covid effects.
The increased use of face masks, gloves, disinfecting gels, and other protective materials, on the other hand, led to a massive amount of (semi)-medical waste.