November 29, 2020
The United States may have set itself up for the spread of a pandemic without even knowing it.
According to new research from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, pollution may bear part of the blame for the rapid proliferation in the United States of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the spread of COVID-19 according to a November 12, 2020 Science Daily report. The research is from the lab of Rajan Chakrabarty, associate professor in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering.
When it comes to how ill someone gets after contracting COVID-19, medical professionals believe that a person’s health — having certain medical conditions, for example — can play a vital role. When it comes to how fast the virus can spread through the community, it turns out the health of the environment is directly correlated to the basic reproduction ratio (R0), which denotes the expected number of people each sick person can infect.
The reproduction ratio R0 of COVID-19 associates directly with the long-term ambient PM2.5 exposure levels. And the presence of secondary inorganic components in PM2.5 only makes things worse, according to Chakrabarty.
“We checked for more than 40 confounding factors,” Chakrabarty said. Of all of those factors, “There was a strong, linear association between long-term PM2.5 exposure and R0.”
PM2.5 refers to ambient particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less; at that size, they can enter a person’s lungs and cause damage. For this reason, PM2.5 can be detrimental to respiratory health. But how this relates to the spread of COVID-19 through a population had yet to be explored.
Then in August, research published in the Journal of Infection found that the highest number of cases of COVID-19 with severe illness were in places with higher pollution levels.
They found these linear correlations to be strongest in places where pollution levels were well below National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), the levels of air pollutants that are considered safe for humans.
“We found black carbon acts as a kind of catalyst. When there is soot present, PM2.5 has more of an acute effect on lung health, and therefore on R0.”
The mediation/moderation study was not superfluous — one of the common ways people are exposed to SNA is through pollution emitted from cars and coal-fired power plants. Both of which also emit soot.
What this means to you
According to new research from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, PM 2.5 pollution may bear part of the blame for the rapid proliferation in the United States of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the spread of COVID-19.
MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for stationary engine control of particulate matter.