A small increase in people's long-term exposure to air pollution is linked with an 11 per cent rise in deaths from coronavirus, according to a research done by scientists at Harvard University.
The latest study has claimed that an increase of 1 microgram per cubic metre air (ug/m3) in PM 2.5 exposure increases coronavirus-related deaths by roughly 11 per cent.
Particulate Matter (PM) is a mixture of solid and liquid particles that are suspended in the air. These are categorised into coarse, fine and ultrafine. Coarse particles have a diameter of 2.5 micrometres.
The Harvard researchers carried out statistical analysis of coronavirus mortality rates across 3,089 countries in the United States and compared it to people who have exposure to PM 2.5 particles for a very long time in these regions.
The study was based on an average exposure between 2000-2016 and COVID-19 mortality up till June 18. Harvard University's latest finding is significant for India as people are more exposed to the highest annual average concentration of PM 2.5 in the world.
The State of Global Air 2020 report claimed in its report that the average Indian was exposed to 83.2 u/m3 of PM 2.5 in last year.
Besides, in national capital Delhi, an average level of the tiny PM 2.5 particles on Thursday was 370 per cubic metre of air against the WHO's prescribed safe limit of 25 per cubic metre. A raging coronavirus epidemic, with more than 400,000 confirmed cases in the city of two crore, has heightened alarm over the health hazard posed by the choking smog.
The Harvard University researchers used a method known as regression analysis to zero-in on possible factors that raised chances of COVID-19 mortality. However, the researchers added that their analysis was limited by a lack of access to "individual-level risk factors" such as age, race, and smoking status.
Last week, another study done by Cardiovascular Research journal also said the long-term exposure to air pollution could be linked to 15 per cent of COVID-19 deaths globally. The research added that pollution particles were a co-factor in aggravating the disease.
Breathing dirty air over years is already known to cause heart and lung disease, and these illnesses make coronavirus infections worse.