Evidence shows that long-term exposure to air pollution is linked to the development of various diseases, including respiratory conditions such as lung cancer and asthma, and to an estimated 36,000 early deaths in the UK every year (Public Health England, 2018). Evidence based research also indicates a link between high levels of air pollutants and Covid-19 cases and deaths (Travaglio et al, 2020; Conticini et al, 2020; Wu et al, 2020). These studies show that nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) exposure damages health which in turn could make people more susceptible to contracting and dying from Covid-19.
Furthermore, pollution itself may be a vector for the pathogen: though tentative there is evidence that air pollution particles can carry the coronavirus over longer distances and increase the number of people infected (Carrington, 2020).
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Leung, D. & Hassan, A. 2020, 'Covid-19 and Air Pollution – One Silver Lining', EAUC The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, 5 June. Available at: https://research-portal.uws.ac.uk/en/publications/f2b9f427-aab9-4671-932a-5eac4d6b0fb7