Link between Air Quality and Covid-19
Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Health and GS III – Pollution
- 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).
- 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.