In the framework of the Air Quality and Health project funded by the European Public Health Alliance, the teams E-Vida Research (Begoña García Zapirain, Ane Loroño, Cristian Castillo), Deusto Business School Health (Maider Urtaran, Roberto Nuño) and the International Research Project Office (Sara Ponce) published a study on the impact of environmental contamination on human health.
According to the study, contamination is the fourth mortality risk factor worldwide. 9 out of 10 people regularly breathe polluted air and it is estimated that 7 million deaths a year are due to poor air quality.
One of the main sources of contamination is traffic. In Spain, traffic accounts for 32% of NO2 emissions and 10% of PM 2.5 and it is one of the reasons why several Spanish cities often exceed the recommended levels of different pollutants and particles. "On the days when this occurs, hospital admissions, medical consultations and emergency care are increased, especially for patients with chronic respiratory diseases,” highlights Dr. Isabel Urrutia, pulmonologist and coordinator of the SEPAR Environment Department (Spanish Society of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery).
DEUSTO study data have backed the recent SEPAR conclusions on the relationship between contamination and COVID-19. According to SEPAR, chronic air pollution facilitates and contributes to the development of respiratory pathologies that are linked to higher COVID-19 mortality rates. For Dr. Isabel Urrutia “(...) we can possibly confirm that short and medium term exposure to contaminants can increase the incidence of COVID-19 infection and the mortality of associated pneumonias”.