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The authors of this study expressed that the results have implications beyond Western states and that air pollution has broadly damaged humans’ ability to fight off disease. As the risk of emerging new viruses increases, air pollution could increase the vulnerability of the global populace to succumbing to disease.
Communities of Color Hit Hardest: Black and Hispanic communities have some of the lowest vaccination rates due to lack of access to the internet, accurate information, healthcare, restrictive work schedules, and somewhat justified distrust of the American medical community.
These communities are some of the most at risk for COVID-19 in the U.S., and that risk only increases as plummeting air quality and extreme heat become the new normal across the west.
Smoke Signals: The observational study, published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, found that when air quality monitors reported high levels of a wildfire smoke particulate known as PM2.5, the rate of positive COVID-19 cases jumped.
For every ten micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 present in the air, cases increased by 6.3% within the next week.
“That temporary association in the midst of a large uptick in cases overall is what convinced us that something’s going on,” Desert Research Institute Assistant Research Scientist Daniel Kiser told the Associated Press. The study concluded, “our findings also bolster arguments that PM2.5 from other sources such as vehicle traffic or industry, increases susceptibility to” COVID-19.
To prevent future tragedy, environmental justice must be a priority in all climate and public health policies. President Biden has pledged to ensure BIPOC communities have a seat at the table and tangibly feel the benefits of federal policy. Experts say that future research on viruses must go hand in hand with pollution to protect marginalized communities and the world.
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer An investigation by The New York Times has found that in 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) approved the use of PFAS in fracking despite its concerns of their toxicity. The records, which NYT acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), reveal that the E.P.A.’s scientists raised concern about the “forever chemicals,” saying that they could […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Hundreds of people have now died as a result of a heatwave that scorched the Pacific Northwest (PNW) this past week. In Oregon, 63 people have died in the last seven days, and British Columbia reported 486 deaths between last Friday and Wednesday alone. As the COVID-19 Delta variant begins making […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer In Australia, after years of drought, wildfires, a period of heavy rains have brought back some plant life and millions of mice. As a result, the country’s southern and eastern agricultural regions are now overrun with mice in their crops, barns, and homes. The ongoing infestation even prompted the evacuation of a prison in […]
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