Long-term exposure to polluted air could increase the risk of severe COVID-19 in people with respiratory diseases such as asthma and COPD, according to a study published in Respiratory Medicine. For the study, investigators examined the backgrounds and health outcomes of more than 1,100 patients with COVID-19 diagnosed between mid-March and early July of 2020 and a median age of 46. Upon assessment of any links between COVID-19-related hospitalization and 10-year exposure to tiny particulate matter (PM2.5), the study team found that a one-unit increase in PM2.5 was associated with a 60% higher risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization for patients with a pre-existing respiratory disease, whereas no such link was observed among those without respiratory disease. “People who have pre-existing asthma and COPD, when… exposed to higher levels of particulate matter… are more likely to have… COVID-19 severe enough to be hospitalized,” said a co-author in a news release. “This study may have policy implications, such as reducing particulate exposure. Many people want to have more clean energy and reduced emissions into the atmosphere.”