FEEM working papers "Note di lavoro"
2020 .06

The Effects of Air Pollution on COVID-19 Related Mortality in Northern Italy

Authors : Eric Coker, Laura Cavalli, Enrico Fabrizi, Gianni Guastella, Enrico Lippo, Maria Laura Parisi, Nicola Pontarollo, Massimiliano Rizzati, Alessandro Varacca, Sergio Vergalli
Keywords : COVID-19, Mortality, Pollution, Italy, Municipalities
JEL n. : I18, Q53


Long-term exposure to air pollutant concentrations is known to cause chronic lung inflammation, a condition that may promote increased severity of COVID-19 syndrome caused by the novel coronavirus. In this paper, we empirically investigate the ecologic association between longterm exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) concentration and excess deaths in the first quarter of 2020 in municipalities of Northern Italian. The study accounts for potentially spatial confounding factors related to urbanization that may have influenced the spreading of the novel coronavirus. Our epidemiological analysis uses geographical information (e.g., municipalities) and Poisson regression to assess whether both ambient PM concentration and excess mortality have a similar spatial distribution. Preliminary evidence confirms the hypothesis and suggests a positive association of ambient PM on excess mortality in Northern Italy.


Suggested citation: Coker, E., L. Cavalli, E. Fabrizi, G. Guastella, E. Lippo, M. L. Parisi, N. Pontarollo, M. Rizzati, A. Varacca, S. Vergalli, (2020), 'The Effects of Air Pollution on COVID-19 Related Mortality in Northern Italy', Nota di Lavoro 6.2020, Milano, Italy: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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