Potential link between compromised air quality and transmission of the novel corona virus (SARS-CoV-2) in affected areas

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Environmental Research


The emergence of a novel human corona virus disease (COVID-19) has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. One of the mechanisms of airborne transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome - corona virus (SARS-CoV-2) amid humans is through direct ejection of droplets via sneezing, coughing and vocalizing. Nevertheless, there are ample evidences of the persistence of infectious viruses on inanimate surfaces for several hours to a few days. Through a critical review of the current literature and a preliminary analysis of the link between SARS-CoV-2 transmission and air pollution in the affected regions, we offer a perspective that polluted environment could enhance the transmission rate of such deadly viruses under moderate-to-high humidity conditions. The aqueous atmospheric aerosols offer a conducive surface for adsorption/absorption of organic molecules and viruses onto them, facilitating a pathway for higher rate of transmission under favourable environmental conditions. This mechanism partially explains the role of polluted air besides the exacerbation of chronic respiratory diseases in the rapid transmission of the virus amongst the public. Hence, it is stressed that more ambitious policies towards a cleaner environment are required globally to nip in the bud what could be the seeds of a fatal outbreak such as COVID-19.



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