Employees and graduates of the Faculty of Building Services, Hydro and Environmental Engineering contributed to the work of the team that analyzed the potential relationship between PM (particulate matter) air pollution and the spread of COVID-19 in Poland.
The analysis was carried out by a working group on the health impact of air pollution, established under the auspices of the Minister of Health, chaired by prof. dr hab. med. Wojciech Hanke of the Occupational Medicine Institute in Łódź.
The team consists of medical doctors and air pollution experts.
Besides the head of the team, the medical doctors include prof. dr hab. n. med. Bolesław Samoliński, dr n. med. Piotr Dąbrowiecki and dr hab. n. med. Michał Krzyżanowski.
All the experts in atmospheric pollution are affiliated with the Faculty of Building Services, Hydro and Environmental Engineering of the Warsaw University of Technology. They include our researchers: prof. dr hab. inż. Katarzyna Juda-Rezler and dr hab. inż. Artur Badyda, WUT Professor, as well as our graduates: mgr inż. Krzysztof Skotak and mgr Łukasz Adamkiewicz.
Lessons learned from the analysis
The analysis stemmed from observations which suggest that COVID-19 infection is markedly more severe among the elderly and people suffering from chronic diseases, including hypertension, other cardiovascular diseases, as well as respiratory diseases. The relationship between the development and progression of those diseases and air pollutants, especially PM2.5 particulate matter (particles with aerodynamic diameters of ≤ 2.5 µm) concentrations, is well known and confirmed by research.
The team pointed out that the relationship between air pollution and the risk of COVID-19 infection, including its severe form, may manifest itself in one or multiple ways, e.g. by the direct influence of air pollution on the body’s defenses against or during an infection, regardless of any comorbidities. At the same time, the Team explained that current knowledge does not allow for this hypothesized relationship to be either confirmed or discarded.
In conclusion, the Team strongly emphasized that since Poland is characterized by high seasonal variability of particulate matter emissions, especially generated by coal and wood being burnt for household heating purposes, reducing the level of these emissions – through large-scale replacement of old boilers/stoves with low-emission energy sources – is particularly urgent during the epidemic.