Link between Air Quality and Covid-19

  • IASbaba
  • June 28, 2021
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Link between Air Quality and Covid-19

Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Health and GS III – Pollution

In news

  • For the first time, a pan-India study has found a direct correlation between air pollution and Covid-19.
  • The study titled ‘Establishing a link between fine particulate matter (PM2.5) zones and Covid-19 over India based on anthropogenic emission sources and air quality data’ dealt with how people living in highly polluted areas are more vulnerable to coronavirus infections.
  • The study found that areas with poor air quality and higher emissions of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 are more likely to have Covid-19 infections and related deaths.
  • The study was conducted by scientists from various universities such as Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, National Institute of Technology Rourkela; IIT, Bhubaneswar.
  • It was partially funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the Government of India.

The study involves three kinds of data sets

  • National Emission Inventory (NEI) of PM2.5 for 2019, developed by the scientists;
  • Number of Covid-19 positive cases and corresponding death as of 5th November, 2020.
  • Air quality index data (in-situ observations).

Important Observations

  • The regions using huge amounts of fossil fuels such as petrol, diesel and coal by combustion in transport and industrial activities also experience a far higher number of Covid-19 cases.
  • The novel coronavirus sticks to fine particles like PM2.5 allowing them to move from one part to another by making the airborne transmission of Covid-19 more effective.

About Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5

  • It is an atmospheric particulate matter of diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometres, which is around 3% the diameter of a human hair.
  • It is very small and can only be detected with the help of an electron microscope.
  • It causes respiratory problems and also reduces visibility. 
  • It is an endocrine disruptor that can affect insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity, thus contributing to diabetes.
  • These particles are formed as a result of burning fuel and chemical reactions that take place in the atmosphere. 
  • Natural processes such as forest fires also contribute to PM2.5 in the air.
  • These particles are also the primary reason for the occurrence of smog.

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