What is the relationship between urban pollution and coronavirus ? Is there a higher risk of disease complication in cities? To try to answer these questions, the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (SEPAR) has presented an unpublished study at the National Congress recently held in Seville entitled ‘Big Data, contamination and COVID-19’.
According to the results of this research, chronic exposure to urban pollution increases the probability of death from covid-19 . “This warning responds to the fact that it has been found that exposure increased to 10 µg / m3 of PM10 increases the probability of death from COVID-19 by 10.5%,” explains SEPAR in a statement.
How does exposure to particulate pollutants influence?
To carry out the work, a study of a cohort of 1,548 patients with covid-19 selected during the first wave of the pandemic, between February and May 2020, was carried out. Thus, admissions for pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV were included -2 and a mathematical model was used to estimate the daily pollutant level in each zip code based on geographic coordinates and latitude at measurement stations.
After adjusting for age, sex and comorbidities, “it has been seen that a long-term increase in exposure to polluting particles such as PM10 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) worsens the prognosis of patients with COVID-19 and also produces increased risk of death from COVID-19 “, they conclude.
But what are PM10? These are fine particles in polluted air that can be inhaled and accumulate in the lungs. Regarding N02, the study determined that “for each increase of 10 μg / m3 (annual average) the probability increases by 35.7% for chronic exposure and 62.9% for acute exposure”.
The importance of knowing the patient’s place of residence
“In this study we have developed an algorithmic model based on artificial intelligence for the prediction of poor evolution in COVID-19. Not only with the result of death, but also with other results such as the need for respiratory support,” explained the doctor. Ane Uranga Echeverria, pulmonologist and member of SEPAR’s Integrated Research Program on respiratory infections.
Thanks to this model, mild and severe cases of covid-19 can be better identified. Likewise, the results of this work have two relevant implications to address in the current context. On the one hand, knowing the official place of residence of the patient, since the level of contamination has a negative influence.
Por otro, al constatar la ciudad o municipio de residencia, el personal sanitario puede acceder a los datos de contaminación y comprobar si los niveles a los que se ha expuesto el paciente de manera crónica suponen un riesgo más elevado para su salud y un peor pronóstico por covid-19.