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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 Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer This week, the medical journal Lancet published their annual report on health in relation to climate change, subtitling it: “code red for a healthy future.” The report delves beyond the obvious effects of wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather events — looking at food security; livelihoods; human physical and mental […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The EPA announced Monday that it will move toward regulating perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — manmade “forever chemicals” — that don’t naturally break down and can contaminate both air and water. These chemicals, found in various household products, from dental floss to nonstick pans, can also be harmful […]
The editors of over 230 medical journals said in a statement on Monday that climate change is a health issue and that its effects could become “catastrophic” if world leaders don’t do more to address it. The health impacts of climate change include wildfire smoke–which has been linked to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases–and pollutants […]
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