Air pollution and the pandemic: Long-term PM2.5 exposure and disease severity in COVID-19 patients.Respirology. 2021 12; 26(12):1181-1187.R
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE
Ecological studies have suggested an association between exposure to particulate matter ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5) and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity. However, these findings are yet to be validated in individual-level studies. We aimed to determine the association of long-term PM2.5 exposure with hospitalization among individual patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
We estimated the 10-year (2009-2018) PM2.5 exposure at the residential zip code of COVID-19 patients diagnosed at the University of Cincinnati healthcare system between 13 March 2020 and 30 September 2020. Logistic regression was used to determine the odds ratio (OR) and 95% CI for COVID-19 hospitalizations associated with PM2.5 , adjusting for socioeconomic characteristics and comorbidities.
Among the 14,783 COVID-19 patients included in our study, 13.6% were hospitalized; the geometric mean (SD) PM2.5 was 10.48 (1.12) μg/m3 . In adjusted analysis, 1 μg/m3 increase in 10-year annual average PM2.5 was associated with 18% higher hospitalization (OR: 1.18, 95% CI: 1.11-1.26). Likewise, 1 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 estimated for the year 2018 was associated with 14% higher hospitalization (OR: 1.14, 95% CI: 1.08-1.21).
Long-term PM2.5 exposure is associated with increased hospitalization in COVID-19. Therefore, more stringent COVID-19 prevention measures may be needed in areas with higher PM2.5 exposure to reduce the disease morbidity and healthcare burden.