Researchers from Birmingham University in the UK have spoken of a “convincing connection” between air pollution and coronavirus hospitalisations and deaths in the Dutch provinces of Brabant and Limburg.
The researchers were looking art a type of particulate matter that occurs when the emissions from traffic and factories mix with the ammonia produced by livestock farms. The more of these particles that were in the air, the higher the rate of coronavirus hospitalisations and deaths were, the scientists say.
The study has already been tested by colleagues, and appears to show that 1 microgram of these particles per cubic metre can lead to 13-21% more coronavirus deaths. In Brabant and Limburg, there is 12 micrograms of these particles per cubic metre. In the north of the country, this lowers to 8 micrograms.
For many people, the reason that the south of the Netherlands has been hit particularly hard by coronavirus seems obvious: the unfortunate timing of carnival, which took place in late February. However, the researchers have also looked into this, and although they agree it played a role, they believe that the suspected impact of these particles is also worth examining.
They have advised the Dutch government to look into reducing air pollution in the Netherlands, especially in preparation for a potential second wave of the virus.
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