An Italian individual-level data study investigating on the association between air pollution exposure and Covid-19 severity in primary-care setting.BMC Public Health. 2021 05 12; 21(1):902.BP
Several studies have been focusing on the potential role of atmospheric pollutants in the diffusion and impact on health of Covid-19. This study's objective was to estimate the association between ≤10 μm diameter particulate matter (PM10) exposure and the likelihood of experiencing pneumonia due to Covid-19 using individual-level data in Italy.
Information on Covid-19 patients was retrieved from the Italian IQVIA® Longitudinal Patient Database (LPD), a computerized network of general practitioners (GPs) including anonymous data on patients' consultations and treatments. All patients with a Covid-19 diagnosis during March 18th, 2020 - June 30th, 2020 were included in the study. The date of first Covid-19 registration was the starting point of the 3-month follow-up (Index Date). Patients were classified based on Covid-19-related pneumonia registrations on the Index date and/or during follow-up presence/absence. Each patient was assigned individual exposure by calculating average PM10 during the 30-day period preceding the Index Date, and according to GP's office province. A multiple generalized linear mixed model, mixed-effects logistic regression, was used to assess the association between PM10 exposure tertiles and the likelihood of experiencing pneumonia.
Among 6483 Covid-19 patients included, 1079 (16.6%) had a diagnosis of pneumonia. Pneumonia patients were older, more frequently men, more health-impaired, and had a higher individual-level exposure to PM10 during the month preceding Covid-19 diagnosis. The mixed-effects model showed that patients whose PM10 exposure level fell in the second tertile had a 30% higher likelihood of having pneumonia than that of first tertile patients, and the risk for those who were in the third tertile was almost doubled.
The consistent findings toward a positive association between PM10 levels and the likelihood of experiencing pneumonia due to Covid-19 make the implementation of new strategies to reduce air pollution more and more urgent.