The impact of outdoor air pollution on COVID-19: a review of evidence from , animal, and human studies


Thomas Bourdrel, Isabella Annesi-Maesano, Barrak Alahmad, Cara N Maesano, and Marie-Abèle Bind. 2021. “The impact of outdoor air pollution on COVID-19: a review of evidence from , animal, and human studies.” Eur Respir Rev, 30, 159.


Studies have pointed out that air pollution may be a contributing factor to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the specific links between air pollution and severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 infection remain unclear. Here we provide evidence from in vitro, animal and human studies from the existing literature. Epidemiological investigations have related various air pollutants to COVID-19 morbidity and mortality at the population level, however, those studies suffer from several limitations. Air pollution may be linked to an increase in COVID-19 severity and lethality through its impact on chronic diseases, such as cardiopulmonary diseases and diabetes. Experimental studies have shown that exposure to air pollution leads to a decreased immune response, thus facilitating viral penetration and replication. Viruses may persist in air through complex interactions with particles and gases depending on: 1) chemical composition; 2) electric charges of particles; and 3) meteorological conditions such as relative humidity, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and temperature. In addition, by reducing UV radiation, air pollutants may promote viral persistence in air and reduce vitamin D synthesis. Further epidemiological studies are needed to better estimate the impact of air pollution on COVID-19. In vitro and in vivo studies are also strongly needed, in particular to more precisely explore the particle-virus interaction in air.