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      Associations of acute exposure to airborne pollutants with COVID-19 infection: evidence from China

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          Abstract

          The outbreak of COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, has spread across many countries globally. Greatly, there are limited studies concerned with the effect of airborne pollutants on COVID-19 infection, while exposure to airborne pollutants may harm human health. This paper aimed to examine the associations of acute exposure to ambient atmospheric pollutants to daily newly COVID-19 confirmed cases in 41 Chinese cities. Using a generalized additive model with Poisson distribution controlling for temperature and relative humidity, we evaluated the association between pollutant concentrations and daily COVID-19 confirmation at single-city level and multicity levels. We observed a 10-μg/m 3 rise in levels of PM 2.5 (lag 0−14), O 3 (lag 0−1), SO 2 (lag 0), and NO 2 (lag 0−14) were positively associated with relative risks of 1.050 (95% CI: 1.028, 1.073), 1.011 (1.007, 1.015), 1.052 (1.022, 1.083), and 1.094 (1.028, 1.164) of daily newly confirmed cases, respectively. Further adjustment for other pollutants did not change the associations materially (excepting in the model for SO 2). Our results indicated that COVID-19 incidence may be susceptible to airborne pollutants such as PM 2.5, O 3, SO 2, and NO 2, and mitigation strategies of environmental factors are required to prevent spreading.

          Supplementary Information

          The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11356-021-14159-z.

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          Most cited references 47

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          A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin

          Since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) 18 years ago, a large number of SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs) have been discovered in their natural reservoir host, bats 1–4 . Previous studies have shown that some bat SARSr-CoVs have the potential to infect humans 5–7 . Here we report the identification and characterization of a new coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which caused an epidemic of acute respiratory syndrome in humans in Wuhan, China. The epidemic, which started on 12 December 2019, had caused 2,794 laboratory-confirmed infections including 80 deaths by 26 January 2020. Full-length genome sequences were obtained from five patients at an early stage of the outbreak. The sequences are almost identical and share 79.6% sequence identity to SARS-CoV. Furthermore, we show that 2019-nCoV is 96% identical at the whole-genome level to a bat coronavirus. Pairwise protein sequence analysis of seven conserved non-structural proteins domains show that this virus belongs to the species of SARSr-CoV. In addition, 2019-nCoV virus isolated from the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of a critically ill patient could be neutralized by sera from several patients. Notably, we confirmed that 2019-nCoV uses the same cell entry receptor—angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2)—as SARS-CoV.
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            Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1

            To the Editor: A novel human coronavirus that is now named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (formerly called HCoV-19) emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and is now causing a pandemic. 1 We analyzed the aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 and compared it with SARS-CoV-1, the most closely related human coronavirus. 2 We evaluated the stability of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 in aerosols and on various surfaces and estimated their decay rates using a Bayesian regression model (see the Methods section in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org). SARS-CoV-2 nCoV-WA1-2020 (MN985325.1) and SARS-CoV-1 Tor2 (AY274119.3) were the strains used. Aerosols (<5 μm) containing SARS-CoV-2 (105.25 50% tissue-culture infectious dose [TCID50] per milliliter) or SARS-CoV-1 (106.75-7.00 TCID50 per milliliter) were generated with the use of a three-jet Collison nebulizer and fed into a Goldberg drum to create an aerosolized environment. The inoculum resulted in cycle-threshold values between 20 and 22, similar to those observed in samples obtained from the upper and lower respiratory tract in humans. Our data consisted of 10 experimental conditions involving two viruses (SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1) in five environmental conditions (aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard). All experimental measurements are reported as means across three replicates. SARS-CoV-2 remained viable in aerosols throughout the duration of our experiment (3 hours), with a reduction in infectious titer from 103.5 to 102.7 TCID50 per liter of air. This reduction was similar to that observed with SARS-CoV-1, from 104.3 to 103.5 TCID50 per milliliter (Figure 1A). SARS-CoV-2 was more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard, and viable virus was detected up to 72 hours after application to these surfaces (Figure 1A), although the virus titer was greatly reduced (from 103.7 to 100.6 TCID50 per milliliter of medium after 72 hours on plastic and from 103.7 to 100.6 TCID50 per milliliter after 48 hours on stainless steel). The stability kinetics of SARS-CoV-1 were similar (from 103.4 to 100.7 TCID50 per milliliter after 72 hours on plastic and from 103.6 to 100.6 TCID50 per milliliter after 48 hours on stainless steel). On copper, no viable SARS-CoV-2 was measured after 4 hours and no viable SARS-CoV-1 was measured after 8 hours. On cardboard, no viable SARS-CoV-2 was measured after 24 hours and no viable SARS-CoV-1 was measured after 8 hours (Figure 1A). Both viruses had an exponential decay in virus titer across all experimental conditions, as indicated by a linear decrease in the log10TCID50 per liter of air or milliliter of medium over time (Figure 1B). The half-lives of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 were similar in aerosols, with median estimates of approximately 1.1 to 1.2 hours and 95% credible intervals of 0.64 to 2.64 for SARS-CoV-2 and 0.78 to 2.43 for SARS-CoV-1 (Figure 1C, and Table S1 in the Supplementary Appendix). The half-lives of the two viruses were also similar on copper. On cardboard, the half-life of SARS-CoV-2 was longer than that of SARS-CoV-1. The longest viability of both viruses was on stainless steel and plastic; the estimated median half-life of SARS-CoV-2 was approximately 5.6 hours on stainless steel and 6.8 hours on plastic (Figure 1C). Estimated differences in the half-lives of the two viruses were small except for those on cardboard (Figure 1C). Individual replicate data were noticeably “noisier” (i.e., there was more variation in the experiment, resulting in a larger standard error) for cardboard than for other surfaces (Fig. S1 through S5), so we advise caution in interpreting this result. We found that the stability of SARS-CoV-2 was similar to that of SARS-CoV-1 under the experimental circumstances tested. This indicates that differences in the epidemiologic characteristics of these viruses probably arise from other factors, including high viral loads in the upper respiratory tract and the potential for persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 to shed and transmit the virus while asymptomatic. 3,4 Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days (depending on the inoculum shed). These findings echo those with SARS-CoV-1, in which these forms of transmission were associated with nosocomial spread and super-spreading events, 5 and they provide information for pandemic mitigation efforts.
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              The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application

              Background: A novel human coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified in China in December 2019. There is limited support for many of its key epidemiologic features, including the incubation period for clinical disease (coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]), which has important implications for surveillance and control activities. Objective: To estimate the length of the incubation period of COVID-19 and describe its public health implications. Design: Pooled analysis of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported between 4 January 2020 and 24 February 2020. Setting: News reports and press releases from 50 provinces, regions, and countries outside Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Participants: Persons with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection outside Hubei province, China. Measurements: Patient demographic characteristics and dates and times of possible exposure, symptom onset, fever onset, and hospitalization. Results: There were 181 confirmed cases with identifiable exposure and symptom onset windows to estimate the incubation period of COVID-19. The median incubation period was estimated to be 5.1 days (95% CI, 4.5 to 5.8 days), and 97.5% of those who develop symptoms will do so within 11.5 days (CI, 8.2 to 15.6 days) of infection. These estimates imply that, under conservative assumptions, 101 out of every 10 000 cases (99th percentile, 482) will develop symptoms after 14 days of active monitoring or quarantine. Limitation: Publicly reported cases may overrepresent severe cases, the incubation period for which may differ from that of mild cases. Conclusion: This work provides additional evidence for a median incubation period for COVID-19 of approximately 5 days, similar to SARS. Our results support current proposals for the length of quarantine or active monitoring of persons potentially exposed to SARS-CoV-2, although longer monitoring periods might be justified in extreme cases. Primary Funding Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                lixiang@fudan.edu.cn
                Journal
                Environ Sci Pollut Res Int
                Environ Sci Pollut Res Int
                Environmental Science and Pollution Research International
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                0944-1344
                1614-7499
                8 May 2021
                : 1-11
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.8547.e, ISNI 0000 0001 0125 2443, Department of Environmental Science & Engineering, , Fudan University, ; Shanghai, 200032 People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Shanghai Institute of Pollution Control and Ecological Security, Shanghai, 200092 People’s Republic of China
                Author notes

                Responsible Editor: Lotfi Aleya

                Article
                14159
                10.1007/s11356-021-14159-z
                8105699
                33963992
                © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted research re-use and secondary analysis in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001809, National Natural Science Foundation of China;
                Award ID: 21876029
                Award ID: 91843301
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
                Research Article

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