Acute and chronic exposure to air pollution in relation with incidence, prevalence, severity and mortality of COVID-19: a rapid systematic review.
Environmental health : a global access science source. 2021;(1):41
BACKGROUND Air pollution is one of the world's leading mortality risk factors contributing to seven million deaths annually. COVID-19 pandemic has claimed about one million deaths in less than a year. However, it is unclear whether exposure to acute and chronic air pollution influences the COVID-19 epidemiologic curve. METHODS We searched for relevant studies listed in six electronic databases between December 2019 and September 2020. We applied no language or publication status limits. Studies presented as original articles, studies that assessed risk, incidence, prevalence, or lethality of COVID-19 in relation with exposure to either short-term or long-term exposure to ambient air pollution were included. All patients regardless of age, sex and location diagnosed as having COVID-19 of any severity were taken into consideration. We synthesised results using harvest plots based on effect direction. RESULTS Included studies were cross-sectional (n = 10), retrospective cohorts (n = 9), ecological (n = 6 of which two were time-series) and hypothesis (n = 1). Of these studies, 52 and 48% assessed the effect of short-term and long-term pollutant exposure, respectively and one evaluated both. Pollutants mostly studied were PM2.5 (64%), NO2 (50%), PM10 (43%) and O3 (29%) for acute effects and PM2.5 (85%), NO2 (39%) and O3 (23%) then PM10 (15%) for chronic effects. Most assessed COVID-19 outcomes were incidence and mortality rate. Acutely, pollutants independently associated with COVID-19 incidence and mortality were first PM2.5 then PM10, NO2 and O3 (only for incident cases). Chronically, similar relationships were found for PM2.5 and NO2. High overall risk of bias judgments (86 and 39% in short-term and long-term exposure studies, respectively) was predominantly due to a failure to adjust aggregated data for important confounders, and to a lesser extent because of a lack of comparative analysis. CONCLUSION The body of evidence indicates that both acute and chronic exposure to air pollution can affect COVID-19 epidemiology. The evidence is unclear for acute exposure due to a higher level of bias in existing studies as compared to moderate evidence with chronic exposure. Public health interventions that help minimize anthropogenic pollutant source and socio-economic injustice/disparities may reduce the planetary threat posed by both COVID-19 and air pollution pandemics.
Effects of air pollutants on the transmission and severity of respiratory viral infections.
Environmental research. 2020;:109650
Particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are among the outdoor air pollutants that are major factors in diseases, causing especially adverse respiratory effects in humans. On the other hand, the role of respiratory viruses in the pathogenesis of severe respiratory infections is an issue of great importance. The present literature review was aimed at assessing the potential effects of air pollutants on the transmission and severity of respiratory viral infections. We have reviewed the scientific literature regarding the association of outdoor air pollution and respiratory viruses on respiratory diseases. Evidence supports a clear association between air concentrations of some pollutants and human respiratory viruses interacting to adversely affect the respiratory system. Given the undoubted importance and topicality of the subject, we have paid special attention to the association between air pollutants and the transmission and severity of the effects caused by the coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2, which causes the COVID-19. Although to date, and by obvious reasons, the number of studies on this issue are still scarce, most results indicate that chronic exposure to air pollutants delays/complicates recovery of patients of COVID-19 and leads to more severe and lethal forms of this disease. This deserves immediate and in-depth experimental investigations.