15% of global Covid deaths linked to air pollution

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) Long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of dying from Covid-19 and a new study has estimated the proportion of deaths from the coronavirus that could be attributed to the exacerbating effects of air pollution for every country in the world.

The study, published in Cardiovascular Research, estimated that about 15 per cent of deaths worldwide from Covid-19 could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. In Europe the proportion was about 19 per cent, in North America it was 17 per cent, and in East Asia about 27 per cent.

The researchers write that these proportions are an estimate of “the fraction of Covid-19 deaths that could be avoided if the population were exposed to lower counterfactual air pollution levels without fossil-fuel-related and other anthropogenic emissions”, and add that this “attributable fraction does not imply a direct cause-effect relationship between air pollution and Covid-19 mortality (although it is possible). Instead it refers to relationships between two, direct and indirect, i.e. by aggravating co-morbidities that could lead to fatal health outcomes of the virus infection”.

Source: European Society of Cardiology (ESC), 27 October 2020.

Link to the study “Regional and global contributions of air pollution to risk of death from Covid-19”: https://academic.oup.com/cardiovascres/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cvr/c...

In this issue


The clock is ticking to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. To be clear right from the start: this goal deserves every effort that mankind can pull off. In the name of realism, this is the goal we must focus on now, given the current level of progress in reducing greenhouse gases. However, damage to marine ecosystems will not be avoided even if we reach this goal1. In fact, damage already occurs at current levels of warming, as evidenced by the bleaching of coral reefs2. This may be an inconvenient truth when our current goal is 1.5°C.

Read more