Smith Collection/Gado/Sipa USA via AP Images Cars drive through an industrial portion of Newark, New Jersey, on a hazy morning at rush hour. Scientists say air pollution, much of it from automobiles, is causing higher COVID-19 mortality rates. Read Stateline coverage of the latest state action on coronavirus.
Car pollution is making the pandemic worse. For years, the effort to reduce transportation emissions has largely centered on fighting climate change. But some advocates say the pandemic underscores the need to focus on human health as well. The worst effects of air pollution are being borne by low-income communities and people of color — the same groups that have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic.
Researchers say they’re seeing indications that the pollutants spewed out of tailpipes are making the people who breathe them at high levels more likely to die from COVID-19. Much of the analysis is still in its early stages, but several studies, some not yet peer-reviewed, show high levels of nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter correlate with higher mortality rates from the virus.
“The science of the health effects of exposure to air pollution is clear,” said Francesa Dominici, professor of biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. […]