Hundreds of additional corona deaths in the Netherlands due to poor air quality | Domestic

Hundreds of additional corona deaths in the Netherlands due to poor air quality | Domestic
Hundreds of additional corona deaths in the Netherlands due to poor air quality | Domestic
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Dirty air may have caused hundreds more people to die from the coronavirus. People living in areas with poor air quality were at greater risk of dying after being infected. Researchers already assumed this, but a new study by the RIVM, among others, confirms this.

In any case, they were more likely to contract the virus and their corona symptoms were worse. This is the conclusion of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), GGD GHOR Netherlands and the universities of Utrecht and Wageningen after research.

How did the study work?

The researchers studied corona infections, hospital admissions and deaths between the beginning of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, i.e. the period from the outbreak to the start of the vaccination campaign. During that period, more than 760,000 people tested positive for corona, more than 31,000 people ended up in hospital with corona complaints and almost 22,500 patients died.

The RIVM already suspected in the early days of the pandemic that corona would hit harder in areas with intensive livestock farming and associated air pollution. In East Brabant and Limburg, the number of infections in April 2020 was ten times higher than in the rest of the country. That was the reason for the research.

According to the study, if air quality had been average in regions with poor air quality, it would have saved 6,000 to 13,500 infections, approximately 1,100 hospital admissions and four hundred to eight hundred deaths.

The study compared regions with poor air quality with places where air quality was better. The researchers did not explicitly look at which regions were involved. They do say that livestock farming and traffic in particular influenced the higher risk of corona and serious illness. What effect the industry had is more difficult to determine.

It is not the first study into the relationship between dirty air and corona. The Max Planck Institute in Mainz, Germany, concluded in 2020 that globally 15 percent of corona deaths can be linked to bad air. The Netherlands is on the European average of 19 percent.

Lung complaints and heart disease

It is not the case that people contract corona due to poor air quality, because that happens through human contact, the researchers emphasize. But if people inhale particulate matter and it enters the lungs, they can eventually suffer from lung complaints and cardiovascular disease. People who live in polluted air are also more susceptible to respiratory infections. That can give them poorer health.

The researchers see the results as confirmation that cleaner air is important for public health. “Cleaner air cannot prevent a future epidemic that affects the respiratory tract. However, cleaner air can reduce the adverse effects of an epidemic.”

GGD wants measures

GGD GHOR states that municipalities can take measures to improve air quality, such as ‘less and cleaner traffic, competitive permits for companies and limiting wood burning’, says a spokeswoman. The umbrella organization calls on municipalities to join the Clean Air Agreement. In that agreement, parties such as the government, the provinces and more than a hundred municipalities have agreed to improve air quality in order to achieve health benefits.

According to the umbrella organization of GGDs, air pollution after smoking is one of the greatest threats to the health of Dutch people. Polluted air increases the risk of airborne diseases such as asthma in children and cardiovascular disease in adults, according to GGD GHOR.



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The article is in Dutch

Netherlands

Tags: Hundreds additional corona deaths Netherlands due poor air quality Domestic

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