November 30, 2020

Pollution and public transport increase the risk of contagion



Environmental pollution and the transport system of large cities increase the risks of contracting respiratory infections such as the coronavirus or complicating the disease, according to several specialists.

“The majority of people exposed to contamination face an inflammatory response in the lungs,” biologist pharmaceutical chemist Gabriela Molina Olvera told Efe.

The doctor in biochemical sciences from UNAM, and a professor at the University of the Valley of Mexico (UVM), indicated that people who suffer considerable inflammation in the lungs are more susceptible to seeing their infectious diseases aggravated.

Patients with chronic heart and lung disease caused or made worse by long-term exposure to air pollution have less ability to fight lung infections “and are more likely to die,” said the expert.

“This is probably also the case for COVID-19,” he added.

So far, COVID-19 has infected more than 1.2 million people worldwide and caused more than 66,000 deaths.

In Mexico, the pandemic has caused more than 1,800 infections and 79 deaths.

A recent study published in the journal Cardiovascular Research states that air pollution shortens life worldwide by nearly three years on average and impacts 8.8 million premature deaths annually.

While the Greenpeace Mexico association highlighted that poor air quality is linked to the annual death of at least 17,000 people in the country, including girls, boys and older adults.

TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM IS ALSO A RISK

For the pulmonologist Héctor Glenn Valdéz López, there is still limited information available regarding the relationship that COVID-19 contamination could have “there is no information that is reliable, conclusive,” said the specialist.

However, he noted that being an infectious, epidemic and easily transmitted disease, a higher prevalence can be seen in large cities, which may be due to access to transport services.

“It probably has more to do with transportation than pollution,” added the specialist.

He stressed that this responds to the fact that the COVID-19 virus can remain on surfaces for several days, and as it is expelled through drops “those drops catch on surfaces, and the risk increases because it can remain on doors, tubes, in all parts. ”

He explained that the movement of people in big cities increases the possibility of contagion “so it is important to avoid places with multiple people and avoid leaving the house,” he said.

The Secretary of Mobility of Mexico City, Andrés Lajous, confirmed a few days ago that there has been a reduction of approximately 50% in all means of transportation, however, they all operate on a regular basis.

And it is that in Mexico many people cannot stop working because around 30 million Mexicans work in the informal economy, so every day they have to use some transport to get to their jobs.

RECOMMENDATIONS OF HEALTH AUTHORITIES

Both specialists agreed that the population should follow the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, even more so if they have a respiratory disease.

“Do not exercise outside the home to prevent the massive entry of polluting particles into the body,” said Dr. Molina Olvera.

In addition, instructions such as not leaving the house, washing hands, avoiding contact with other people, leaving as little as possible and avoiding exposing older people who could have more serious complications should be followed to the letter.

Cristina Sánchez Reyes

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