Luke Curtis
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Human Dimensions of Fire Management
Smoke & Air Quality
Smoke & Populations

NRFSN number: 23829
FRAMES RCS Number: 64265
Record updated: November 4, 2021

Numerous studies have linked outdoor levels of PM2.5, PM10, NO2, O3, SO2, and other air pollutants to significantly higher rates of Covid 19 morbidity and mortality, although the rate in which specific concentrations of pollutants increase Covid 19 morbidity and mortality varies widely by specific country and study. As little as a 1-μg/m3 increase in outdoor PM2.5 is estimated to increase rates of Covid 19 by as much as 0.22 to 8%. Two California studies have strongly linked heavy wildfire burning periods with significantly higher outdoor levels of PM2.5 and CO as well as significantly higher rates of Covid 19 cases and deaths. Active smoking has also been strongly linked significantly increased risk of Covid 19 severity and death. Other exposures possibly related to greater risk of Covid 19 morbidity and mortality include incense, pesticides, heavy metals, dust/sand, toxic waste sites, and volcanic emissions. The exact mechanisms in which air pollutants increase Covid 19 infections are not fully understood, but are probably related to pollutant-related oxidation and inflammation of the lungs and other tissues and to the pollutant-driven alternation of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 in respiratory and other cells.


Curtis, Luke. 2021. PM2.5, NO2, wildfires, and other environmental exposures are linked to higher Covid 19 incidence, severity, and death rates. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 28(39):54429-54447.

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