Researchers from the University of Mainz have produced a detailed report estimating the proportion of deaths from the coronavirus that could be attributed to the exacerbating effects of air pollution for every country in the world. Published in Cardiovascular Research on Monday the 26th of October, the report entitled ‘Regional and global contributions of air pollution to risk of death from COVID-19‘ found that air pollution is a critical co-factor increasing the risk of mortality from Covid-19.
Specifically for Ireland, the findings estimate that 8 per cent of Covid-19 deaths are linked to air pollution, 6 per cent of which are related to fossil fuel related emissions. This suggests at least 150 Covid-19 deaths in Ireland are attributable to exposure to air pollution. This latest report highlights further the link between air pollution and more severe Covid-19 symptoms and higher mortality figures.
Professor Thomas Münzel of Mainz University indicated that when people inhale polluted air, small particles migrate from the lungs to the blood vessels, causing inflammation. According to Professor Münzel ”If both long-term exposure to air pollution and infection with the Covid-19 virus come together then we have an additive adverse effect on health, particularly with respect to the heart and blood vessels, which leads to greater vulnerability and less resilience to Covid-19”.
The Climate and Health Alliance have continued to advocate for the introduction of stronger air quality measures to reduce the level of air pollution in Ireland and the 1,300 of deaths attributable to poor air quality. This report underlines the urgent need for more effective action, including the nationwide ban of all solid smoky fuels and the need to comply with WHO air quality guidelines.