Suburbs in Mumbai are more prone to Covid-19 due to excessive exposure to air pollutants, finds a new study by the International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS), which points to a significant association between pollution and Covid-19 in Mumbai’s suburbs such as Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Bhandup, Mulund, Kurla, Andheri, Vile Parle and Kandivli.
According to a report in The Times of India, while the concentration of particulate matter (PM10) is high in the entire city, higher prevalence of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in wards such as S, T, N, R-South and K-East may have worsened the Covid crisis, stated the study. On the other hand, wards in southern Mumbai saw a relatively lower impact of pollutants, and therefore lower Covid cases too. The study also found that more Covid-related deaths in suburban wards where the population had higher exposure to NO2.
Meanwhile, another study conducted by Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology suggested that COVID-19 virus piggybacks only black carbon emitted during biomass burning and not all PM2.5 particles. The study, published in the journal ELSEVIER, is based on data collected from Delhi, from September to December 2020, and the 24-hour average of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and black carbon (BC).
PM2.5 refers to fine particles which penetrate deep into the body and fuel inflammation in the lungs and respiratory tract, leading to the risk of having cardiovascular and respiratory problems, including a weak immune system. PM2.5 consists of black carbon, often called soot, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), among others.
Almost 40 per cent of BC emissions are attributed to open biomass burning, 40 per cent to fossil fuel burning, and the remaining 20 per cent to biofuel burning. Several studies have linked air pollution to higher COVID-19 cases. A study carried out in Italy correlated the incidence of coronavirus cases with PM2.5 levels, the authors — Aditi Rathod and Gufran Beig — said.
The surge in black carbon emission is directly related to the additional contribution of stubble burning-induced PM2.5 concentration transported externally from stubble burning regions, the study said. In another study conducted earlier, Beig and his co-authors had said that people living in the national capital and in states such as Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are more likely to contract COVID-19 due to prolonged exposure to high concentration of PM 2.5.
(With inputs from PTI)