Health impacts
29 May 2020
Population exposure
Health Impact Assessment
Publications and Scientific Resources

Incidence of COVID-19 and Connections with Air Pollution Exposure: Evidence from the Netherlands

This policy research paper published by the World Bank examines the link between COVID-19 infections and exposure to air pollution

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has led to the emergence of many infection hotspots around the world. Many of them appear to be located in areas with high levels of air pollution. Thus, since the beginning of the pandemic, several scientific studies have been conducted on the links between COVID-19 and air pollution. For the researchers, the risk of viral respiratory infections such as COVID-19 seems likely to increase considerably in the presence of high levels of fine particles - indicators of high exposure to air pollution. 


Thus, this study by researcher Bo Andree takes the same perspective, examining the association between exposure to air pollution (in the form of fine particles) and the number of infections due to COVID-19. He bases his study on data obtained from 355 municipalities in the Netherlands on the number of confirmed cases as well as air pollution levels in patients' home areas, which were assessed using PM 2.5 and PM 10 indicators. 


Preliminary results from this study indicate that individuals exposed to PM2.5 would be at a higher risk of contracting VIDOC-19. As Bo Andree argues, "If fine particles play an important role in the spread of COVID-19, this has important implications for the mitigation strategies needed to prevent this spread, especially in areas with high pollution levels". Nevertheless, further studies are needed to further investigate the association between air pollution and the risk of infection with COVID-19. 


Author: Bo Pieter Johannes Andrée, Strategy, Analytics, Financing Solutions & Knowledge Unit - World Bank Group