Project at a Glance

Title: Ambient Air Pollution and COVID-19 Disease Severity or Death among Confirmed Cases in Southern California

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Jerrett, Michael

Contractor: UC Los Angeles

Contract Number: 19RD030


Research Program Area: Health & Exposure

Topic Areas: Health Effects of Air Pollution


Research Summary:

The COVID-19 pandemic represents one of the largest threats to population health in more than a century. Biologically plausible reasons suggest that air pollution may make people more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, and once they have the disease, air pollution exposure may contribute to a worse prognosis. The objective of the study is to assess whether air pollution exposures lead to worse outcomes in confirmed COVID-19 cases among members of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) HMO. The wealth of individual information on the members of this cohort can help to determine the role of air pollution exposure in a worsening of COVID-19 disease including admission to hospital, admission to the ICU, advanced oxygen treatment or being put on a ventilator, and death in hospital. The individual information included in the health data will enable the investigators to examine whether exposure gradients along socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity are partly responsible for a worse prognosis of some patient groups (e.g., non-whites) as well as examining the impacts of preexisting conditions. Contractors will use advanced land use regression exposure modeling to estimate ambient concentrations of several common air pollutants, including NO2, PM2.5, and O3. Contractors will also use chemical transport models (CTMs) to estimate speciated fine and ultra-fine particles. These CTMs also enable researchers to examine specific sources of the particles, and to link these estimates to all confirmed cases in the KPSC database. These data will be to assess whether higher chronic air pollution contributes to worse COVID-19 progression in diagnosed patients.


For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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