Vehicle pollution in London increases the risk of catching Covid-19.
London’s air quality is far from healthy, which is one of the many reasons why new diesel and petrol cars will no longer be sold in the UK from 2030. What is surprising is that London’s dirty air is actually increasing our vulnerability to Covid-19. Studies carried out by lead researcher at Queen Mary University, Professor Johnathan Grigg, confirmed the link between environmental conditions and Covid infection rates.
The project tested air particles from Marylebone Road on a lab-grown human nose and throat cells. Grigg explained that the nose is the ‘front door’ where the virus enters the body. According to the results, these airborne pollutants can effectively widen the ‘door’ by making the cells more of a target. This is largely due to toxins increasing the amount of ACE2 in the body, which makes these cells more receptive to Covid.
Grigg said “Most people breathe through the nose. That means these cells are being exposed to the highest concentrations of pollutants in the environment. If a virus comes along in the one, two, three hours that this receptor is increased, you’ve got increased susceptibility. That increased ACE2 receptor means that more virus gets in.”
The lack of vehicles on the roads over the spring lockdown has definitely helped matters, however traffic levels are currently exceeding pre-lockdown figures. The scientists have concluded that there needs to be a range of initiatives in place to improve the capital’s air, starting with the removal of “the most polluting vehicles…which are producing a large proportion of nitrogen dioxide in the city.” Amen to that!