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The 10 U.S. Counties With the Worst Air Pollution



Air pollution arguably started when humans first learned how to harness the power of fire, and it became the modern curse of industry, automobiles, and power plants.

Today, in the time of COVID-19, dirty air is even more dangerous to our health. Not only has the pandemic caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone, but, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), many of the pre-existing conditions that put some segments of the population at greater risk of serious complications from COVID may be linked to long-term exposure to air pollution.

Is there a connection between air pollution and severity of COVID-19?

A study by scientists at Harvard University looked at whether long-term average exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) was associated with a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 in the United States.

By comparing PM2.5 data to the Johns Hopkins University count of COVID-19 deaths in more than 3,000 counties in the spring of 2020, they found long-term average exposure to this type of pollution was associated with worse outcomes from COVID-19.

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1. Orange County, California

– Average fine particulate matter pollution, 2000-2016: 15.8 μg/m^3
— 31.6% above EPA standard
– Worst year: 2001 (22.0 μg/m^3 annual average)
– Best year: 2015 (12.5 μg/m^3 annual average)

Nearly 3.2 million people live in Orange County, where, in 2006, 70 percent of voters approved a 30-year half-cent sales tax to help reduce transportation-related air pollution through less freeway congestion and expanded public transit.

In a link between air quality and COVID-19, in late January, local officials suspended limits on Orange County crematoriums, which are typically subject to regulations on the number of human remains incinerated due to potential impacts on air quality. The limits were lifted due to the substantial increase in the number of deaths due to COVID-19.

Researched By Betsy Ladyzhets



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