Juliana Pino usually tries to drive polluting businesses out of the chicago neighborhood, an industrial area with large Latino communities, according tomedia The Verge. Now, amid the ongoing pandemic of new coronaviruses, she and her colleagues are also examining their elderly neighbors, pooling money to help those who can’t afford it, and translating health information about the new coronavirus for Spanish-speaking residents. The job is different, but it is still relevant to her efforts to achieve clean air.
Older people living in small villages are already more vulnerable to COVID-19 because of their age. But those who grew up here spent most of their lives breathing soot from a nearby coal-fired power plant, she explains. “You have a history of exposure to toxic substances and social vulnerability, which means that pollution affects different people differently,” said Pino, policy director of Little Village Environmental Justice, which successfully led to the closure of coal-fired power plants in 2012 through activities.
The new coronavirus is changing every aspect of life in the region where the outbreak occurs. Like any disaster, the COVID-19 pandemic will hit some people harder than others. Because this is a disease that affects the lungs, people living in places with higher levels of air pollution may be more vulnerable. In more poor, ethnic and immigrant communities, this pollution is worsening.
John Balmes, a physician and spokesman for the American Lung Association, told The Verge: “We are the richest country in the world, but we have some of the biggest inequalities. These inequities will have real consequences, as COVID-19 will prove.” “Air pollution interacts with a number of other factors that increase the risk,” he said.
Severe COVID-19 cases can lead to pneumonia and can lead to death. The disease is the deadliest among the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions, making it more difficult to breathe or fight infection. Even without a pandemic, air pollution is also associated with higher lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the population. Studies in the United States and China have found that high levels of air pollution are also associated with large numbers of hospitalizations for pneumonia.
A study of SARS cases in China found that during the 2003 SARS outbreak, patients in areas with the highest levels of air pollution were twice as likely to die from SARS as those living in very few areas. Even moderate levels of air pollution greatly increase the risk of death.
There is no data on how air pollution affects the current pandemic, but Balmes notes that air pollution levels are high in countries with severe COVID-19 outbreaks (Wuhan, northern Italy and South Korea). He believes that air pollution may be one of the reasons for the severity of the outbreak in these areas, although not the primary factor.
Another data point from China supports the air pollution hypothesis. In China, more men than women die from the new coronavirus, and some have speculated that this may be because fewer women smoke there. Ana Navas-Acien, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, told The Verge that air pollution could be the same if smoking does put someone at higher risk. “If we infer from there, we may speculate that individuals in areas with higher levels of air pollution may also be at higher risk of more serious infections,” she said. This is a hypothesis that is at least worth testing. “
In places like Chicago’s small village, the COVID-19 pandemic is piling up on other stress forces. Mr Pinault said social distances immediately took a toll on street vendors in the city, most of whom lived nearby. “Just like today, they can’t afford supplies because they would have spent that day’s cash to replenish them,” Pino said. “It’s just people in the community who are in a really precarious situation, and even then, it’s not enough,” she said. “
Air pollution is already a problem in the area, and some residents are out of pocket. This is a double whammy of higher risk and less resources. “Researchers call this a double-dangerous hypothesis that could extend to the new coronavirus pandemic we are facing today,” Anjum Hajat, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington, said in an email to The Verge. “Double danger” is often used to describe the disadvantages faced by older persons of color because of their age and race.
Balmes is also concerned about poor housing quality, inadequate environmental space sits or healthy food for residents in polluted areas. He fears that some migrants may find it more difficult to care for for fear of deportation.
In China, Italy and California, the decline in the number of cars and aircraft on the roads has temporarily curbed pollution. But that doesn’t do the damage that has been done for decades. As a result, Pino said, “we need targeted priority help for the communities that are currently hard hit.” “