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How chronic air pollution can cause more deaths from Covid in the country


Global research notes that exposure to chronic air pollution increases the chances of succumbing to Covid-19. Nitrogen oxides were one of the culprits. Remember, NOx can be the most dangerous PM2.5 in terms of size, as well as resulting in ozone when it reacts with pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, found in some paints and for cleaning purposes.

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Today is a good time to discuss the link between Covid-19 and air pollution. Five years have passed since the Paris Agreement and we have lost a million lives, in addition to losing the year. We have also seen that it is possible to control air pollution in India. If we didn’t have such high levels of air pollution, would fewer Indians have died from Covid-19?

Possible, but let’s look ahead. In India, fuels and industries emit the most NOx. We must readjust our cities for more public transportation and make it easier to use non-motorized transportation. When it comes to industry, there is no other option but to invest in clean production. Both sources also contribute significantly to climate change. Clearly, we know where the terrible two of air pollution and climate change lie.

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Now, in 2020, Covid-19 has also come to rest here. The pandemic may or may not be a rare event. But we can be sure that other pandemics await us. In the past, they all affected our respiratory system, so let’s hope the same in the future. History shows us that prevention is the only real cure. To stay safe, we must treat air pollution as the emergency that it is; this is key to being both a pandemic and climate resilience.

(The writer is the founder and director of the Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)

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