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Relation between PM2.5 pollution and Covid-19 mortality in Western Europe for the 2020–2022 period

The ambient air pollution by particulate matter (PM) has strong negative effects on human health. Recent studies have found correlations between pollution and mortality due to Covid-19. We present here an analysis of such correlation for 32 locations in 6 countries of the Western Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom), for the 2020–2022 period. The data are weekly averaged, and the mortality values were normalized considering the population of the locations. A correlation is qualitatively found for the time-series of PM2.5 pollution and Covid-19 mortality. The higher mortality values occurred during the pollutions peaks, as presented for the city of Paris (France) and the Lombardy regions (Italia), one of the more polluted locations in Western Europe. An almost linear trend with a factor 5.5 ± 1.0 increase in mortality when the pollution increases to ~45 μg.m−3 is found when considering all data. This leads to an increase of 10.5 ± 2.5 % of mortality per 1 μg.m−3. More precisely, the trend depends on the period of the analysis and decreases with time (first spread of the pandemic in Spring 2020, mid-2020 – mid 2021 period where the pandemic was better managed, and vaccinal race after mid-2021). Finally, although the initial conditions could differ from one country to another, the relative trend of increase was similar for the countries here considered. Such results can have some implication on the management of the Covid-19 pandemic and other cardiopulmonary diseases during PM pollution events. They also show the importance of reducing the PM pollution in the major cities.

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