In the News
Cracking the Potentially Deadly Connection Between Air Quality and Coronavirus
Since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, public health officials have suspected there is a direct link between dirty air and serious illness or even death from COVID-19. Air pollution damages the lungs and can cause inflammation and interfere with normal immune functions, two factors that could increase susceptibility to the virus.
Statistics show that coronavirus disproportionately affects communities of color. Now, researchers with the Public Health Institute and UCSF are launching a joint study funded by the California Air Resources Board to examine the link between dirty air and this disparate health outcome at the neighborhood level.
Gina Solomon, principal investigator at PHI and lead researcher of the study, says it’s important for researchers to examine the “differences in air quality and health vulnerabilities across the counties,” as well as to examine the impact of recent exposure to air pollution along with long-term exposure.
“It’s already evident that low-income communities of color in California are at disproportionate risk of getting COVID-19, and also at increased risk of hospitalization and death. That’s a stark and horrifying fact already from the data.”
– Gina Solomon, principal investigator at PHI and lead researcher of the study
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Originally published by KQED