Exposure to Air Pollution Has Significant Effect on the COVID-19 Pandemic: CMU Professor Wen-Chao Ho Publishes Research Findings in Environmental Research
Date：May 14, 2021
Professor Wen-Chao Ho and Professor Shih-Chieh Hung published their research, “Effects of short- and long-term exposure to atmospheric pollution on COVID-19 risk and fatality: analysis of the first epidemic wave in northern Italy”, in the May 15, 2021 issue of Environmental Research [DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111293]. The study discovered that exposure to air pollution had a significant effect on the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the exposure to Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). The results should remind governments and the public to pay more attention to energy conservation and carbon reduction.
Professor Shih-Chieh Hung, the Director of Drug Development Center, discovered from animal experiment data and clinical research that SO2 has a stimulating effect on angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The ACE2 receptor is the pathway for COVID-19 to invade the human body. Therefore, the research team combined the epidemiology of animal experiment data, clinical research, and international big data to do further research and evaluate whether short and long-term exposure to air pollution would affect the incidence and mortality of COVID-19 infection.
Italy was the first country in Europe to suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. The CMU research team studied the first wave of COVID-19 infections in Lombardy and Veneto (northern Italy). They collected the air pollution monitoring data (including NO2, O3, SO2, PM2.5 and PM10) and the climatic condition data in the area between January 2013 to May 2020. They combined this data with daily reported COVID-19 cases and deaths and used Generalized Estimating Equation (GEE) to complete an environmental epidemiological assessment and analysis.
They found that after the implementation of climate controls and lockdowns, short-term exposure to PM2.5 and PM10 had an effect on the incidences and mortality rate of COVID-19 infection, compared to their long-term exposure effect. On the contrary, the effect of long-term exposure to SO2 and NO2 on COVID-19 are more important than short-term exposure. Both short-term and long-term exposure to SO2 increases the risk of COVID-19 infection and mortality rate. In conclusion, exposure to air pollution has a significant impact on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professor Wen-Chao Ho, Professor Shih-Chieh Hung, and Postdoctoral research fellow Chi-Chang Ho, look forward to conducting further research and providing more in-depth information to continue making contributions to the pandemic prevention of COVID-19.