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SARS-CoV-2 and Exposure to Pollution of the Population near an Industrial Area in the Metropolitan Region in São Paulo State, Brazil

Author(s): Maria Angela Zaccarelli-Marino, Thalles Zaccarelli Balderi, Felipe Mingorance Crepaldi, Rudá Alessi, Marco Martins

Background Industrial installations close to residential areas could cause health risks. Since coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emerged in December 2019, the epidemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome Corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes clusters of severe respiratory illness, has rapidly developed into a pandemic. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between pre-existing diseases, such as obstructive pulmonary disease (OPDs), rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, dermatitis and primary hypothyroidism (PH), in residents close to an industrial area exposed to long-term air pollutants and an increased risk of complications when infected with SARS-CoV-2. Methods With a focus on the area affected by the Capuava Petrochemical Complex (CPC) (Region 1) and combining the AERMOD dispersion model with the Weather Research Forecast (WRF) (2016), we evaluated the Greater ABC region, Brazil. The concentrations of the nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were analyzed in 2017 and these data were correlated with data obtained in a survey of 2004 residents 8-72 years of age of both sexes; 1002 (Region 1), and 1002 of them reside within the areas surrounding various industrial areas (Region 2). SARS-CoV-2 cases were collected from the Greater ABC region. Result Region 1 showed higher average concentrations of all pollutants analyzed. Among the 2004 total residents, there were significant differences between Region 1 and Region 2 in the incidence of cases of rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, OPDs, conjunctivitis, dermatitis and PH demonstrating that there is a higher incidence of the evaluated diseases in residents who live closer to the CPC. Compared with residents with these diseases, the residents of Region 1 had a higher relative risk of complications when infected with SARS-CoV-2 than did the residents of Region 2. Conclusion To protect public health from the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, further research into the dynamics of COVID-19 infection in polluted regions is urgently needed. To reduce the possibility of the virus mutating and causing more waves of infection, an early diagnosis quickly and accurately is essential, as people living in polluted regions are more vulnerable to disease and complications with sequelae or even not having a recovery evolving towards death.

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