Air Pollution and COVID-19 Infection Spread in Italy

Evaluation of the potential relationship
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Particulate Matter Pollution and COVID-19 Infection Relationship in Italy

Evaluation of the potential relationship between Particulate Matter (PM) pollution and COVID-19 infection spread in Italy

Leonardo Setti – University of Bologna, Italy
Fabrizio Passarini – University of Bologna, Italy
Gianluigi de Gennaro – University of Bari, Italy
Alessia Di Gilio – University of Bari, Italy
Jolanda Palmisani – University of Bari, Italy
Paolo Buono – University of Bari, Italy
Gianna Fornari – University of Bari, Italy
Maria Grazia Perrone – University of Milano, Italy
Andrea Piazzalunga – Expert, Milano, Italy
Pierluigi Barbieri – University of Trieste, Italy
Emanuele Rizzo – Italian Society of Environmental Medicine
Alessandro Miani – Italian Society of Environmental Medicine

Evidence leads the authors to the hypothesis of a direct relationship between the number of persons infected by COVID-19 and the PM10 concentration levels in specific areas of Italian territory, confirming previous findings of recently published studies regarding environmental factors involved in viral infection spread.

Therefore, on the basis of the collected data and observed relationships, it is reasonable to assume that, during the period 7 th -29 th February and in specific Northern Italian regions, PM10 concentration levels higher than the daily limit value resulted in a ‘boost’ process promoting the diffusion the COVID-19 among the exposed population, phenomenon not observed in other Italian regions that were affected by the contamination during the same period.

In conclusion, the rapid COVID-19 infection spread observed in selected regions of Northern Italy is supposed be related to PM10 pollution due to airborne particles able to serve as carrier of pathogens. As already highlighted in previous studies, it is recommended to take into account PM10 contribution and make policymakers aware of the need to take direct actions for pollution control.