Clean air for health
Breathing is the most basic human function to sustain life. And yet, air pollution remains the largest environmental health risk in Europe, despite increasing awareness of the health impacts of air pollution over decades and various policy initiatives at international, European, national, regional and city levels.
SPOTLIGHT: How does air pollution interact with COVID-19?
COVID-19 lockdown measures and air quality
Air pollution-caused conditions: co-morbidities
Air pollution, COVID-19 and damages to immunity
Air pollution, COVID-19 and health inequalities
The controversial hypothesis: the potential role of air pollution as vector for virus?
Some scientists believe viruses may bond with pollution particles, allowing them to remain airborne for longer and potentially helping them make their way into the lungs. However, this is a hypothesis which needs to be tested and demonstrated.
The study demonstrated a positive association between air pollution and SARS case fatality in Chinese population by utilizing publicly accessible data on SARS statistics and air pollution indices. Although ecologic fallacy and uncontrolled confounding effects might have biased the results, the possibility of a detrimental effect of air pollution on the prognosis of SARS patients deserves further investigation.
The monitoring period available for the epidemiological investigation is still too limited to draw scientifically solid conclusions in relation to the very many factors that influence the growth rate of the infection, researchers claim.
In general, further data-driven investigation is needed in order to better highlight the possible connections between airborne PM and viral respiratory infections, with the aim to develop effective Covid-19 infection prevention and control measures, and more accurate air quality policies for human health. The Italian review Epidemiologia & Prevenzione has set up a “repository” on COVID where researchers are starting to deposit papers and articles without waiting peer reviews.
Published on April 6 in Environmental Pollution, the paper suggests they may have suffered a number of complications because their bodies were already been weakened by their long-term exposure to toxic air.
Caution should be used in translating high values of conventional metrics, such as PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations, into a direct measure of vulnerability. Airborne transmission mediated by virus-laden aerosols emitted during expiration and speech is plausible in specific environments. Current knowledge indicates a low probability in outdoor environments and an increase in probability in specific indoor environments, like hospitals and areas where patients are quarantined. In these environments, it is advisable to mitigate the risk for vulnerable people via using periodic ventilation of environments, decontaminations of surfaces and air conditioning systems, and appropriate technologies for mechanical ventilation/conditioning in order to limit the circulation of virus-laden bioaerosols in air.
‘Routes of transmission COVID-19 is transmitted via droplets and fomites during close unprotected contact between an infector and infectee. Airborne spread has not been reported for COVID-19 and it is not believed to be a major driver of transmission based on available evidence; however, it can be envisaged if certain aerosol-generating procedures are conducted in health care facilities. Fecal shedding has been demonstrated from some patients, and viable virus has been identified in a limited number of case reports. However, the fecal-oral route does not appear to be a driver of COVID-19 transmission; its role and significance for COVID-19 remains to be determined.’
Do you live in a city? This is what air pollution is doing to us.
“Weakening enforcement of air pollution laws is not the answer to our current health and economic crisis” say EPHA, BEUC, T&E and EEB
Civil Society calls on the European Commission to ensure that, in the interests of public health, consumer rights, environmental protection and fair demands to delay essential EU vehicles emission legislation are resistedread more
A new coalition of medical professionals across Europe are speaking out about the effects of air pollution on public health. Will you join them?read more
How local efforts to tackle air pollution from garden bonfires can have wider public health benefitsread more
Analysis & Opinion
Air pollution affects everyone, but not the same way. Dirty air has the potential to exacerbate existing health inequalities, especially for socially disadvantaged groups that are disproportionately exposed to air pollution.read more
These conditions affect millions of people, and can increase the risk of more serious health complications if one contracts COVID-19.read more
Air pollution is the largest environmental health risk in Europe: exposure to the pollutants causes more than 700,000 deaths every year. Besides the contribution of large industries and the agricultural sector to this health issue, an important role is played by transport on city level. In this webinar Zoltán Massay-Kosubek (European Public Health Alliance) will explain the science behind air pollution affecting our health, policy development on European level and action that can be taken during the COVID-19 pandemic
A matter of life or death
25 April 2019
Ella was only 9 years old when she succumbed to an asthma attack linked to the illegal levels of air pollution in the United Kingdom.
Do you have a question?
Meet our Clean Air for Health Policy Lead.
Policy Manager for Health Policy Coherence
+32 2 233 3872