People who live in areas with high levels of air pollutant nitrogen dioxide are more likely to have serious cases of covid-19 and are admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) or require mechanical ventilation. This is according to a study by German researchers.
“Our findings show a positive correlation between long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide and the incidence rate and mortality in Covid-19,” said the team responsible for the work led by Suzanne Koch at the UniversitySmedicine Berlin at the University Hospital in Berlin.
To carry out the study, professionals cited air pollution data from each municipality in Germany, including patient information, requiring ICU treatment or mechanical ventilation for one month in 2020. After the analysis, the scientists found that the average 144 ICU beds and 102 cities with the longest exposure to nitrogen dioxide needed a ventilator for patients infected with the coronavirus. In the case of the 10 cities with the lowest exposure, 28 ICU beds and 19 ventilators were required, as highlighted by The Guardian.
The researchers acknowledged that the survey did not prove a causal link between air pollution and severe covid-19. However, he suggested an admirable causal link that could explain the relationship between disease and atmospheric nitrogen dioxide levels.
Scientists say Ace-2 could be used to understand the relationship between infection severity and pollution. When it enters the cells, after infecting a person, the coronavirus binds to the Ace-2 receptor. This receptor, among other important functions, is responsible for helping the body regulate levels of angiotensin II, a protein that promotes inflammation. In other words, it helps to stop the inflammation. However, when the pathogen binds it, it no longer occurs.
It is also known that air pollution loses control over angiotensin II. Therefore, prolonged exposure to Covid-19 and air pollution can lead to more acute inflammation and, therefore, more need for ICU and mechanical ventilation.
“Exposure to ambient air pollution can contribute to many other conditions, including heart attack, stroke, asthma and lung cancer, and will continue to harm health even after the end of the Covid-19 epidemic,” Koch said. “There is an urgent need for renewable energy, clean transportation and transition to sustainable agriculture to improve air quality. Reducing emissions will not only limit climate change but also improve the health and well-being of people around the world. ”
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