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Pollution increases the risk for mould allergy and COVID-19 infections

Uncategorized Apr 23, 2020

Air pollution - what does it look like?

Have you ever wondered how the air we breathe can cause respiratory irritation? What is in that haze or smog that sometimes blankets urban cities? Sure, it probably contains chemicals and maybe even smoke - but there's a lot more to it than just a chemical soup. In today's Livestream we're going to deep dive into particulate matter, or PM and review what's known about the fungal contribution. Then we're going to look at the inflammatory potential of mould fragments in the PM2.5 and PM10 and ultra-small size ranges (yes, even down to the nanoscale).

What else is in the air?

Environmental metagenomics to identify what fungi are in the air

If we use molecular methods to investigate what's in the air, we quickly discover that there's a lot of mould in the air.  Some scientists have been able to fractionate those fungi present in the PM2.5 and PM10 size range and relate this with 'hazy' and 'non-hazy' atmospheric conditions.  This visual picture (called a heatmap) shows how the different fungi are distributed across the size range we typically use to describe the haze.

Then we'll look at how cytokines are involved.

What's fascinating is that the hyphal fragments are able to elicit in some cases and even stronger effect than the intact spores.

From this perspective, we'll then look into the connection between particulate matter and the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 infection levels. There's some excellent emerging research saying that the worse the PM, the higher the number of cases of COVID-19. Watch the livestream to see if it's just the presence of PM that causes for example an immune reaction, perhaps pre-disposing people to SARS-CoV-2 or if the particles themselves are transmitting the virus.

YouTube Link:


SARS-Cov-2 RNA Found on Particulate Matter of Bergamo in Northern Italy: First Preliminary Evidence
Leonardo Setti, Fabrizio Passarini, Gianluigi De Gennaro, Pierluigi Baribieri, Maria Grazia Perrone, Massimo Borelli, Jolanda Palmisani, Alessia Di Gilio, Valentina Torboli, Alberto Pallavicini, Maurizio Ruscio, PRISCO PISCITELLI, Alessandro Miani
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The Potential role of Particulate Matter in the Spreading of COVID-19 in Northern Italy: First Evidence-based Research Hypotheses
Leonardo Setti, Fabrizio Passarini, Gianluigi De Gennaro, Pierluigi Barbieri, Maria Grazia Perrone, Andrea Piazzalunga, Massimo Borelli, Jolanda Palmisani, Alessia Di Gilio, PRISCO PISCITELLI, Alessandro Miani
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Initial evidence of higher morbidity and mortality due to SARS-CoV-2 in regions with lower air quality
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medRxiv 2020.04.04.20053595; doi:
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An effect assessment of Airborne particulate matter pollution on COVID-19: A multi-city Study in China
Bo Wang, Jiangtao Liu, Shihua Fu, Xiaocheng Xu, Lanyu Li, Yueling Ma, Ji Zhou, Jinxi Yao, Xingrong Liu, Xiuxia Zhang, Xiaotao He, Jun Yan, Yanjun Shi, Xiaowei Ren, Jingping Niu, Bin Luo, Kai zhang
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Yan D, Zhang T, Su J et al. Diversity and Composition of Airborne Fungal Community Associated with Particulate Matters in Beijing during Haze and Non-haze Days. Front Microbiol. 2016;7. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.00487

Li, C.Y., Ding, M.S., Yang, Y., Zhang, P.C., Li, Y., Wang, Y.C., Huang, L.C., Yang, P.J., Wang, M., Sha, X., Xu, Y.M., Guo, C.W. and Shan, Z.W. (2016) Portrait and Classification of Individual Haze Particulates. Journal of Environmental Protection, 7, 1355-1379.

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Watch the Livestream on how air pollution could put you at risk for mould illness and even increase your chance of being diagnosed with COVID-19 


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