Assessment of the relationship between exposure to air pollutants and COVID-19 pandemic in Tehran city, Iran


Geography and Anthropology

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The COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus first identified in December 2019 has resulted in millions of deaths so far around the world. Controlling the spread of the disease requires a good understanding of the factors (e.g. air pollutants) that influence virus transmission and the conditions under which it spreads. This study analyzed the relationships between COVID-19 cases and both short-term (6-month) and long-term (60-month) exposures to eight air pollutants (NO, NO2, NOx, CO, SO2, O3, PM2.5 and PM10) in Tehran city, Iran, by integrating geostatistical interpolation models, regression analysis, and an innovated COVID-19 incidence rate calculation (Q-index) that considered the spatial distributions of both population and air pollution. The results show that the higher COVID-19 incidence rate was significantly associated with the exposure to higher concentrations of CO, NO, and NOx during the short-term period; the higher COVID-19 incidence rate was significantly related to the exposure to higher concentrations of PM2.5 during the long-term period; while COVID-19 incidence rate was not significantly associated with the concentrations of O3, SO2, PM10 and NO2 in either period. This study indicates that exposure to air pollutants can effect an increase in the number of infected people by transmitting the virus through the air or by predisposing people to the disease over time. The Q-index calculation method developed in this study can be also used by other studies to calculate more accurate disease rates that consider the spatial distribution of both population and air pollution.

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Atmospheric Pollution Research

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