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Evaluating the Environmental Impacts of Personal Protective Equipment Use by the General Population during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study of Lombardy (Northern Italy)

COVID-19 and the Environment, Review and Analysis

Independent Researcher, 1500 Brecknock Rd., Greenport, NY 11944, USA
Independent Researcher, 360 Bonnie Bray, Bonny Doon, CA 95060, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Hynek Roubík
Received: 30 March 2021 / Revised: 4 May 2021 / Accepted: 4 May 2021 / Published: 11 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Implications of COVID-19 Pandemic)
We reviewed studies linking COVID-19 cases and deaths with the environment, focusing on relationships with air pollution. We found both short- and long-term observational relationships with a range of regulated pollutants, although only two studies considered both cases (i.e., infections) and deaths within a common analytical framework. Most of these studies were limited to a few months of the pandemic period. Statistically significant relationships were found more often for PM2.5 and NO2 than for other regulated pollutants, but no rationale was suggested for such short-term relationships; latency was seldom considered for long-term relationships. It was also unclear whether confounding had been adequately controlled in either type of study. Studies of air quality improvement following lockdowns found more robust relationships with local (CO, NO2) rather than regional (PM2.5, O3) pollutants, but meteorological confounding was seldom considered. Only one of seven studies of airborne virus transmission reported actual measurements. Overall, we found the existing body of literature to be more suggestive than definitive. Due to these various deficiencies, we assembled a new state-level database of cumulative COVID-19 cases and deaths through March 2021 with a range of potential predictor variables and performed linear regression analyses on various combinations. As single predictors, we found significant (p < 0.05) relationships between cumulative cases and household crowding (+), education (−), face-mask usage (−), or voting Republican (+). For cumulative deaths, we found significant relationships with education (−), black race (+), or previous levels of PM2.5 (+). NOx (+), and elemental carbon (EC, +). We found no relationships between long-term air quality and cumulative COVID-19 cases. Our associations linking air pollution with COVID-19 mortality were not statistically different from those for all-cause mortality in previous studies. In multiple mortality regressions combining air pollution, race, and education, NOx and EC remained significant but PM2.5 did not. We concluded that the current worldwide emphasis on PM2.5 is misplaced. We predicted air pollutant effects of a few percentage points, but individual differences between races, political identification, and post-graduate education were of the order of factors of 2 to 4. In general, the factors predicting infection were personal and related to COVID-19 exposure, while those predicting subsequent mortality tended to be more situational and related to geography. Overall, we concluded that how you live is more important than where you live. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; virus; air pollution; infections; mortality; lockdown; regression analysis COVID-19; virus; air pollution; infections; mortality; lockdown; regression analysis
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lipfert, F.W.; Wyzga, R.E. COVID-19 and the Environment, Review and Analysis. Environments 2021, 8, 42.

AMA Style

Lipfert FW, Wyzga RE. COVID-19 and the Environment, Review and Analysis. Environments. 2021; 8(5):42.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lipfert, Frederick W., and Ronald E. Wyzga 2021. "COVID-19 and the Environment, Review and Analysis" Environments 8, no. 5: 42.

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