According to a new study, air pollution increases COVID-19 hospitalization risk.
The peer-reviewed study indicated that exposure to typical air contaminants raised hospitalization risk by 30% among fully vaccinated patients.
“Among vaccinated persons, the harmful effect of air pollution exposure is a little reduced,” said co-author Zhanghua Chen of USC. It’s not statistically significant.
More than 50,000 COVID-19 patients in Southern California were studied. Estimated air pollution exposure was computed for every residential address using publicly-available data on PM2.5, NO2, and O3 levels in the month and year before each patient’s diagnosis.
Long-term and short-term air pollution exposure may influence COVID-19 severity through distinct processes.
Long-term air pollution exposure is connected to an increased risk of cardiovascular and lung illness, which can worsen COVID-19 symptoms. Short-term air pollution exposure may intensify lung inflammation and impair immunological responses. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory disorder, air quality affected patient outcomes.
Short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide and fine particles increased hospitalization risk by 13 to 14% in unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. Long-term exposure raised the risk by 22 to 24%. The risks were marginally lower for partially and completely vaccinated people, but not significantly. Hospitalization rates were unaffected by ozone.
The study found that COVID-19 immunization reduces hospitalizations.
Fully vaccinated people had a 90% lower risk of COVID hospitalization and partially vaccinated people had a 50% reduced risk.
“These findings show that, while COVID-19 vaccines reduce hospitalization risk, vaccinated people exposed to polluted air are at increased risk for worse outcomes,” said co-author Anny Xiang, a senior research scientist at Kaiser Permanente, an American healthcare consortium.
Since improving air quality could reduce COVID-19 cases, researchers are researching the effects of air purifiers on patients.