Air pollution increases risk of COVID-19, deaths: Study

 Air pollution in Bengaluru is linked to the loss of an estimated 6,300 lives in the first half of 2020 and 3.7 per cent decline in the city’s annual GDP despite strictly enforcing COVID-19 related lockdown, a study has revealed.

According to a new online tool by IQAir AirVisual and Greenpeace-Southeast Asia, research shows that long-term air pollution exposure increases the risk of severe COVID-19 infections and death. “Air pollution in Bengaluru is linked to the loss of an estimated 6,300 lives in the first half of 2020 despite a strict COVID-related lockdown,” the two organisations claimed in a statement. It is also revealed that air pollution took a major toll on the citys economy at a cost of approximately ₹6,973 crore over the last six months, an equivalent of 3.7% of Bengalurus total annual GDP, the statement said.

 The study claimed that the health damage from air pollution is expected to cost 1-5.8% of cities GDP in the major metropolitan cities of the world in the first half of this year. Of all the 28 cities studied, Delhi bears the highest economic cost of air pollution as a percentage of GDP due to the impacts of PM2.5 and NO2 pollution. While some cities have seen a temporary return of blue skies as a result of COVID-19 related restrictions, these gains were reversed as soon as lockdowns ended, the organisations observed.

“… Chronic air pollution exposure is associated with diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic lung disease. Patients with these conditions are at a greater risk of hospitalisation with COVID-19,” they claimed.

The study observed that it is more important than ever that investments are directed towards green, just and sustainable sectors of society. “Now is the time for a rapid shift away from polluting fossil fuels for our health, community, and for our economies, Greenpeace India’s Avinash Chanchal was quoted as saying.

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