"Convincing link" between air pollution, high Covid-19 figures in N. Brabant, Limburg

Researchers at the University of Birmingham found a "convincing link" between air pollution and the high number of Covid-19 patients in Noord-Brabant and Limburg. According to the British researchers, the number of Covid-19 hospital admissions and deaths increases as the amount of particulate matter in the air increases, Brabants Dagblad reports. 

According to the researchers, an increase of 1 microgram of particulate matter statistically leads to between 13 and 21 percent more coronavirus related deaths. In the Netherlands, the amount of particulate matter in the air ranges from around 8 micrograms per cubic meter in Noord-Nederland to around 12 micrograms in Oost-Brabant and Noord-Limburg. 

The study focused on so-called PM 2.5 particulate matter - medium-sized particles that mainly occur when the emissions from traffic and industry react with ammonia from livestock farms. The researchers took 20 factors which could influence the coronavirus figures into account, including things like age, education, income and health. 

They also took the annual Carnival festivities into account, often mentioned as the major coronavirus spreading incident in Noord-Brabant and Limburg. "We are not saying that Carnival did not play a role. I suspect it did," researcher Matt Cole said to the newspaper. Only, even after carnival was taken into account, the connection between the coronavirus numbers and air pollution is still solid, he said.

The researchers suggest that the Netherlands should do more against air pollution and that the health authorities should be aware of this link if there is another coronavirus outbreak. They also added that this study is based on statistics - detailed epidemiological research is required to demonstrate a strong link.