Harvard study highlights connection between air pollution and COVID-19 death rates

Harvard study highlights connection between air pollution and COVID-19 death rates
Updated: Apr. 9, 2020 at 7:28 PM CDT
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VANDERBURGH Co., Ind. (WFIE) -New research released by the Harvard School of Public Health outlines the impact of air pollution on COVID-19 patients.

The study shows a connection between higher rates of pollution and COVID-19 deaths.

Air pollution is an issue John Blair has worked to bring attention to for years. Blair is the president of Valleywatch, which was created in 1981 to “protect the public health and environment of the lower Ohio Valley.”

“We are the largest concentration of coal-fired power plants in the Western Hemisphere within about a 100-kilometer radius of Evansville,” Blair said.

The study shows long term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of more complications with COVID-19 and according to an interview with CNN, one of those researchers listed Vanderburgh County as one with high pollution levels.

Blair explained the importance of keeping our air clean, even before COVID-19 hit our community.

“It’s clear everyone has to breathe the air that they’re given, with water pollution it’s a little different," Blair said. "You can filter water.”

The Harvard research team also says Vanderburgh had lower than average rates of death from COVID-19.

Blair says our air pollution goes back to the 1960′s when power plants started moving in.

“We’ve been pretty much under assault with fine particle pollution," Blair said. "Basically sulfates and nitrates from all these power plants.”

Researchers say the lower deaths in Vanderburgh County isn’t all good news, it just means the county needs to continue practicing social distancing.

Blair tells us these stay at home orders are doing the most good for our environment right now, as fewer cars are on our roadways.

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