In a new nationwide study by the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, coronavirus patients exposed to high levels of air pollution were more likely to die from the virus than those patients in areas with cleaner air quality.

The scientists collected data from 3,000 counties, about 98% of the United States population until April 4, 2020, and examined levels of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), an air quality indicator. The study found that increases in long term exposure to PM 2.5 led to a large increase in the COVID-19 death rate. Ultimately, people in counties with high levels of pollution are 15% more likely to die from the coronavirus.

“This study provides evidence that counties that have more polluted air will experience higher risks of death for Covid-19,” Francesca Dominici, a professor of biostatistics at Harvard and lead author, said of the study, meaning that counties with higher levels of pollution, “will be the ones that will have higher numbers of hospitalizations, higher numbers of deaths and where many of the resources should be concentrated.”

Dr. John R. Balmes, a spokesman for the American Lung Association and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said these findings were important for patients in poor neighborhoods or communities of color, which are often exposed to higher levels of air pollution.

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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