Air pollution linked to greater risk of coronavirus hospitalisation

Imperial College London has claimed that there is a link between a person’s exposure to air pollution and the severity with which they will experience the effects of coronavirus.

The new review, led by Imperial’s Environmental Research Group and commissioned through Imperial Projects, provides a comprehensive overview of the best recent evidence and shows some evidence that past exposure to toxic air leads to more severe cases of coronavirus.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan believes it is clear from this emerging evidence that reducing air pollution is crucial to helping build resilience to coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

The review confirmed that: exposure to air pollution before the pandemic increased the risk of hospital admissions if a person became infected with coronavirus in a small number of good quality studies; exposure to air pollution might increase the likelihood of contracting coronavirus if you are exposed to the virus; and, more widely, there is pre-existing evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to, and worsens the outcome from, a range of infectious lung diseases, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

Khan said: “We already know that air pollution is linked to life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease and asthma. But until now previous studies have underestimated the role air pollution plays in infectious diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis and most recently Covid-19.

“This new review led by Imperial researchers makes it crystal clear that tackling air pollution is a vital part of building our resilience to Covid-19, and other infections like it. The decisions we make now to tackle air pollution are truly a matter of life and death

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the clear evidence showing the dangers of toxic air pollution. That’s why I’m committed to expanding the Ultra-Low Emission Zone next month, and why I will continue to take the bold action necessary to eradicate pollution from our city.”

Khan has pledged to be the greenest Mayor London has ever had, with a mandate from Londoners to put environment and climate policies at the heart of his second term in office. As such, he has introduced central London ULEZ which has reduced nitrogen dioxide roadside concentrations by nearly a half and the number of state schools located in areas exceeding legal limits has reduced from 455 in 2016 to 14 today. It has also led to reductions that are five times greater than the national average.

Later this year, the Ultra Low Emission Zone will be expanded up to the North and South Circular in a crucial step in London’s green recovery.

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