‘Air pollution may exacerbate Covid-19 risks’

The rising air pollution – whether due to stubble burning or crackers, it may have adverse impact on compromised lungs.
Air Pollution

New Delhi, Nov 4 : With the ongoing Covid pandemic having airborne transmission, particulate matter (PM) in the air could act as a carrier to increase the spread of the virus, experts said.

AIIMS Patna Associate Professor, Dr Abhishek Shankar, said that air pollution is one of the greatest challenges and there have been discussions at global level for strategic solutions to this concern. This has become more important at present in view of positive correlation between air pollution and the spread of the coronavirus, he added.

“These can be well understood with two hypotheses. First, Covid-19, like other viruses, has an airborne transmission, and PM could act as a carrier to increase the spread of the virus. Secondly, PM could induce damage to lung cells, increase inflammation leading to increase in mortality and this effect can be more pronounced in most polluted areas,” Shankar told IANS.

Air pollution also weakens the immune system, compromising ability to fight off infection. Long-term exposure to chronically high PM2.5 levels weakens the ability of the lungs to clear off infections due to compromise in immunity, making general population more prone to acquire Covid-19, he added.

AIIMS Delhi’s Additional Professor, Community Medicine, Prof Harish Salve, told IANS that the rising air pollution – whether due to stubble burning or crackers, it may have adverse impact on compromised lungs.

As severe Covid patients have compromised lungs, they must avoid going outside in the morning hours as air pollution has more impacts during the time.

“Air pollution is most important contributor and risk factor for non-communicable disease like lungs problem, heart failure, brain stroke and many others. Over 85 per cent deaths in India are linked with non-communicable diseases, Salve said.

Noting firecrackers injuries most commonly affect eyes, hands, face, head, and fingers, RML Hospital’s Dr Tarun Kumar said that most commonly, they results in burn injuries but can also leads to laceration and tissue damage. Injuries are most commonly associated with sparklers, aerial crackers and so on, he added.

About additive effects of crackers on pollution, he said that many harmful gases like sulphur dioxide, and nitrous oxides are released when crackers are burst, and these can exacerbate respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis.

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