Founded in 2015, AirPop was created to provide users with protection from the dangers of air pollution. While this remains a core goal of AirPop, we now see providing COVID-19 protection as an equally important goal. However, while these two airborne dangers are typically treated individually, we may need to consider them together.
A recent study has found that common airborne pollutants such as fine dust particles (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide increased the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization in patients by up to 30% - regardless of whether the patients were vaccinated or not.
The team, consisting of researchers from the University of Southern California, analyzed patients' medical records at a local hospital. At the hospital, just over 50,000 patients (over 12 years old) were diagnosed in July and August 2021.
Out of these patients, approximately 31,000 were unvaccinated. Among these individuals, it was found that shorter-term exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) led to a 13% higher risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 complications.
The study's most interesting finding was the difference between short and long-term exposures. Where short-term exposure led to a 13% increase in hospitalizations, long-term exposure led to a much more significant 24% increase in hospitalizations.
A very similar story was found for nitrogen dioxide levels. For NO2, short-term exposure raised hospitalizations by 14%. More concerningly, long-term exposure led to a 22% increase in hospitalizations.
Perhaps the study's most interesting finding is that while there is a slight difference in percentages between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, the difference is slight and not statistically significant.
This study highlights the importance of not discounting air pollution in the face of COVID-19. While the pandemic has become the primary reason many of us wear masks, it’s not the only reason - especially when air pollution and COVID can have a shared impact.