This Harvard analysis is the first nationwide study to show a statistical link, revealing a ‘large overlap’ between COVID-19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to air pollution of fine particulate matter.
Coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are more likely to die from the infection than patients in cleaner parts of the country, according to a new nationwide study that offers the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and COVID-19 death rates.
In an analysis of 3,080 U.S. counties, researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease.
For weeks, public health officials have surmised a link between dirty air and death or serious illness from COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus. The Harvard analysis is the first nationwide study to show a statistical link, revealing a “large overlap” between COVID-19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to fine particulate matter.
“The results of this paper suggest that long-term exposure to air pollution increases vulnerability to experiencing the most severe COVID-19 outcomes,” the authors wrote.
- This evidence is yet another case for increasing the use of rail freight over road freight;
- To lower air pollution particulates ‘save public health’ in this new Harvard study.
New Harvard study shows heavy traffic particulate air pollution exposure through Cities with Ports has the potential for a public health threat to those who suffer Covid 19 deaths and other diseases associated with long-term exposure to air pollution from ‘fine particulate matter’.
Diesel engine exhaust air pollution is causing most of the city air pollution is studies such as this statement from “The union of concerned scientists”https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/diesel-engines-public-health
Quote from; Health impacts of diesel pollution
Diesel-powered vehicles and equipment account for nearly half of all nitrogen oxides (NOx) and more than two-thirds of all particulate matter (PM) emissions from US transportation sources.
Particulate matter or soot is created during the incomplete combustion of diesel fuel. Its composition often includes hundreds of chemical elements, including sulfates, ammonium, nitrates, elemental carbon, condensed organic compounds, and even carcinogenic compounds and heavy metals such as arsenic, selenium, cadmium and zinc.¹ Though just a fraction of the width of a human hair, particulate matter varies in size from coarse particulates (less than 10 microns in diameter) to fine particulates (less than 2.5 microns) to ultrafine particulates (less than 0.1 microns). Ultrafine particulates, which are small enough to penetrate the cells of the lungs, make up 80-95% of diesel soot pollution.
Particulate matter irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses and even premature death. Although everyone is susceptible to diesel soot pollution, children, the elderly, and individuals with preexisting respiratory conditions are the most vulnerable. Researchers estimate that, nationwide, tens of thousands of people die prematurely each year as a result of particulate pollution. Diesel engines contribute to the problem by releasing particulates directly into the air and by emitting nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides, which transform into “secondary” particulates in the atmosphere.
Diesel emissions of nitrogen oxides contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, which irritates the respiratory system, causing coughing, choking, and reduced lung capacity. Ground level ozone pollution, formed when nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon emissions combine in the presence of sunlight, presents a hazard for both healthy adults and individuals suffering from respiratory problems. Urban ozone pollution has been linked to increased hospital admissions for respiratory problems such as asthma, even at levels below the federal standards for ozone.
Diesel exhaust has been classified a potential human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Exposure to high levels of diesel exhaust has been shown to cause lung tumors in rats, and studies of humans routinely exposed to diesel fumes indicate a greater risk of lung cancer. For example, occupational health studies of railroad, dock, trucking, and bus garage workers exposed to high levels of diesel exhaust over many years consistently demonstrate a 20 to 50 percent increase in the risk of lung cancer or mortality.²
- We need regional NZ rail to reduce the alarming increasing rate of truck freight emissions & diesel particulate air pollution as road freight transport is a large use of fuel and emitter of carbon emissions & air pollution confirmed by these studies.