The Effects Of Air Pollutants On COVID-19 Infection And Mortality

Though the entire globe witnessed the outbreak of COVID-19 and its consequences, the infection and fatality rate have been varied in different regions of a country.

Air pollutants can be broadly categorized into 3 types according to their size - Suspended Particles, microbial and indoor/outdoor gases. The public health concerns have increased manifold with the rise in the cases of COVID-19. Though the entire globe witnessed the outbreak of COVID-19 and its consequences, the infection and fatality rate have been varied in different regions of a country. Among several other reasons, air pollutants came up as one of the most hazardous reasons behind rising cases of COVID-19; especially as it created severe complications for people struggling with respiratory issues and heart disease.

COVID-19 and Air Pollutants

Few recent studies have demonstrated that short and long-term exposure to air pollutants can exponentially increase cases of COVID-19. The presence of PM 2.5 in the air (both indoor and outdoor) can significantly push the rates of COVID-19 infections and mortalities. One thing can be positively inferred that air pollutants like dust, dander, Smoke, Pollen, VOCs, indoor/outdoor gases, and suspended particles do aggravate the symptoms of Covid-19 and other respiratory diseases as it travels deep into our lungs and weakens the respiratory system. An exposure to perilous particulate matter in the air increases vulnerability and leaves harmful effects on patients affected by COVID-19 infections. Further research on the effects of air pollutants on COVID-19 patients indicates potential confounders like age and pre-existing medical conditions. People already suffering from various respiratory symptoms like Asthma, Pneumonia, TB, COPD, Bronchitis, etc. might experience greater problems because of air pollutants. Broadly speaking, air pollutants multiplies the risk of Covid-19 infection because of their affinity to transport through various mediums.

The Adverse impact of Air Pollutants on COVID-19

The major health risk factors in the environment are increased with fine particulate matter in the air such as PM2.5. They act as a catalyst for the soaring rate of respiratory diseases and elevates the hospitalization rate for chronic lung disease and pneumonia.

The coronavirus is in an aerosol form and requires a medium to reach another uninfected person. Transmission of microbes like coronavirus is facilitated through particulate matter (a major air pollutant) as it provides a medium for transmission. During sneezing or coughing, aerosol particles get attached to the particulate matter and easily travel from one person to another. The greater the no. of particles, the higher is the no. of carriers. In essence, air pollution can exacerbate the impact of Covid-19 on the population.

In the laboratory environment, SARS-COV-2 displayed steadiness in ambient aerosols, which is viewed as a source of transmission of COVID-19 infections among humans. Hazardous air quality increases infectious disease transmission and is associated with increased SARS fatality. PM acts as the carrier of the deadly virus. The greater the no. of carriers, the higher the no. of virus transmitted.

One interesting example of aerosol transmission is a sneeze or a cough. A sneeze (travels at a speed of 100MPH) or a cough allows the virus to easily travel through the air because of the initial thrust. The bigger particle might drop to the surface within 4 ft. but the smaller droplets with the virus will reach another person up to 70 ft with speed and PM particles as the medium.

Air pollutants worsening the prognosis for COVID-19 patients

Experts have revealed that air pollutants are targeting the endothelium, the complex contact between chemical reactions and multiple emissions in the environment results in air pollution.

The ultrafine particles have the size of a virus, the smaller particles are more likely to penetrate the lung epithelium. The fine particulate matter PM 2.5 is responsible for increasing oxidative stress within the vasculature, increasing inflammation and causing vascular dysfunction. All these features by air pollutants lead to chronic diseases, acute coronary syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, heart failure, thrombosis, etc. The disastrous impact of air pollutants on human health has a daunting effect on the fertility rate as well which is discouraging.

Active Air Purification technology- the Savior!

There is an urgent need to increase the knowledge and awareness about air pollutants. Some simple steps would be to enlighten the masses about the benefits of HEPA filters and active air purification technology.

When compared with passive air purification technology that uses mechanical filters(HEPA,ULPA,etc) which need air to be recirculated and only trap particles (not neutralize) to remove microbes from the source, active air purification is a much better alternative. The microbes captured in the passive air purification can be back in the air through recirculation because it is not neutralized. In the active air purification technology, microbes including the coronavirus are neutralized at the source itself by altering of DNA/RNA structure. Ionized H2O2 ions or strong oxidising agents are released in the air that inactivates the virus in the air and surfaces. The process is completely safe for humans, thereby reducing the chances of cross-contamination not just for Covid-19 but other infections transferred from infected human to others. That is the USP of active air purification technology.

Active Air Purification can be the plausible solution to the problem of Aerosol Transmission. Charged H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) ions released in the air will keep neutralizing the coronavirus produced from a source like Human sneeze or cough that is completely safe for humans. The technology also works well on other air pollutants like smoke, pollen, mold, VOCs, chemical gases and other pollutants along with coronavirus. It has also been proven to help patients with respiratory diseases such as TB, COPD, Pneumonia.

As we speak, more research is being carried out and extensive studies being undertaken on how to deploy the above-mentioned technology in public areas to counter any future scare emanating from bio terror war.


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