Pandemic highlights urgent global need to control pollution, doctors say

Harvard professor calls for more research into whether inequities in air quality ‘may be a cause of the stark disparities of the Covid-19 pandemic along racial and ethnic lines’, reports Andy Gregory

Sunday 11 April 2021 00:20
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A man wearing a facemask crosses a street amid smoggy condition in New Delhi in October
A man wearing a facemask crosses a street amid smoggy condition in New Delhi in October

The coronavirus pandemic should be a “wake-up call” to tackle global air pollution and “end our tolerance” for dirty air in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, doctors have warned.

Suggesting that disproportionate levels of exposure to polluted air could be partly to blame for “severe disparities” in coronavirus death rates among ethnic minorities and low-income communities, physician researchers at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) said Covid-19 had “highlighted the widespread health consequences” of air pollution.

In an article published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society journal, researchers from the Harvard Medical School-affiliated teaching hospital reviewed studies suggesting a significant link between Covid-19 mortality and air pollution exists – with one study blaming long-term exposure to polluted air for 15 per cent of global coronavirus deaths.

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