WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — One-year fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and one-month nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposure are associated with increased COVID-19 severity, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Zhanghua Chen, Ph.D., from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues used individual-level data from electronic medical records to examine the association between exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 severity. Data were included for all individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 from Kaiser Permanente Southern California between March 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2020. Based on residential address history, the one-year and one-month averaged ambient air pollutant (PM2.5, NO2, and ozone) exposures were estimated.

The researchers found that the rates of hospitalization, intensive respiratory support (IRS), intensive care unit (ICU) admissions within 30 days, and mortality within 60 days after COVID-19 diagnosis were 6.3, 2.4, 1.5, and 1.5 percent, respectively. One-year PM2.5 and one-month NO2 average exposures were associated with COVID-19 severity in adjusted multipollutant models. The odds ratios associated with one standard deviation increase in one-year PM2.5 were 1.24, 1.33, and 1.32 for hospitalization, IRS, and ICU admission, respectively; the corresponding odds ratios for one-year NO2 were 1.12, 1.18, and 1.21.

“Given that ambient air pollutants are modifiable through public health regulations and individual interventions, our results support public health and individual efforts to reduce air pollution exposure,” the authors write.

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