Is Air Pollution Exacerbating COVID-19 Symptoms?

by | Sep 28, 2020 | Environmental Law

For the past six months, Americans have struggled to cope with the devastating toll of COVID-19. While government leaders in several states are still promoting stringent safety guidelines to slow the spread of the disease, officials in many other states have taken a less stringent approach.

With recent reports of more than 7 million cases and over 200,000 deaths, people are not just focused on the spread of the virus; they also want to know why it is more deadly for some individuals than it is for others. Recent research suggests that environmental factors play a key role.

Link between HAPs and COVID-19 Fatalities

Due to the fact that COVID-19 negatively affects the human respiratory system, numerous agencies are investigating how other related risk factors increase the chances of death. One such factor is exposure to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). Serious health conditions including lung cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have been linked to air pollution. For COVID-19 patients who live in densely populated cities and rural areas near power plants and heavy diesel trucking with inflated HAP levels, the data indicate higher rates of death.

What This Research Could Mean

State and federal agencies already monitor and regulate HAPs. However, in light of this research, advocates will likely push for more strict regulations to protect workers and residents affected by exposure to HAPs. It is also possible that victims of COVID-19 and their family members could file personal injury or wrongful death claims against companies contributing to higher HAP levels in residential areas.

Physical location seems to increase a person’s risk of not just contracting, but surviving, the virus. Yet scientists worldwide are still trying to understand COVID-19 and why it affects some people more than others. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the possible connection between air pollution and COVID-19 fatalities.