Associations of Ambient Air Pollutants and Meteorological Factors With COVID-19 Transmission in 31 Chinese Provinces: A Time Series Study
Evidence regarding the effects of environmental factors on COVID-19 transmission is mixed. We aimed to explore the associations of air pollutants and meteorological factors with COVID-19 confirmed cases during the outbreak period throughout China. The number of COVID-19 confirmed cases, air pollutant concentrations, and meteorological factors in China from January 25 to February 29, 2020, (36 days) were extracted from authoritative electronic databases. The associations were estimated for a single-day lag as well as moving averages lag using generalized additive mixed models. Region-specific analyses and meta-analysis were conducted in 5 selected regions from the north to south of China with diverse air pollution levels and weather conditions and sufficient sample size. Nonlinear concentration–response analyses were performed. An increase of each interquartile range in PM2.5, PM10, SO2, NO2, O3, and CO at lag4 corresponded to 1.40 (1.37–1.43), 1.35 (1.32–1.37), 1.01 (1.00–1.02), 1.08 (1.07–1.10), 1.28 (1.27–1.29), and 1.26 (1.24–1.28) ORs of daily new cases, respectively. For 1°C, 1%, and 1 m/s increase in temperature, relative humidity, and wind velocity, the ORs were 0.97 (0.97–0.98), 0.96 (0.96–0.97), and 0.94 (0.92–0.95), respectively. The estimates of PM2.5, PM10, NO2, and all meteorological factors remained significantly after meta-analysis for the five selected regions. The concentration–response relationships showed that higher concentrations of air pollutants and lower meteorological factors were associated with daily new cases increasing. Higher air pollutant concentrations and lower temperature, relative humidity and wind velocity may favor COVID-19 transmission. Controlling ambient air pollution, especially for PM2.5, PM10, NO2, may be an important component of reducing risk of COVID-19 infection. In addition, as winter months are arriving in China, the meteorological factors may play a negative role in prevention. Therefore, it is significant to implement the public health control measures persistently in case another possible pandemic.