The connection between air pollution and COVID-19 in Northern Italy: a joint study by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, University of Florida, University of Brescia and Catholic University
With more than 200 thousand confirmed cases and more than 30 thousands deaths, the spreading of the new coronavirus in Italy has caused tremendous effects on public health. Contagion official statistics suggest an heavy spatial concentration in some regions and some environmental factors may have worsened the situation. The northern Italian regions most affected by the spreading of coronavirus (Lombardia, Veneto, Piemonte, Emilia Romagna) are also the most densely populated and heavily industrialized and polluted. The high level of environmental polluting emissions caused by the productive activities located in these regions is in part responsible for poor air quality. In this paper, a team of researchers belonging to four different research institutions, included Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, examined the role of ambient PM in explaining the spatial variation of death rates that occurred in Northern Italy during the outbreak. The results of the paper are consistent with expectations and suggest a positive relationship between PM2.5 concentration and COVID-19 mortality. The evidence in the paper shows that the relationship between PM and COVID-19 deaths goes far beyond a simple geographical correlation.