Air pollution causes mood swings

The coronavirus and the importance of air pollution

Venlo / Viersen, April 22, 2020

An insight into current scientific research results

Air pollution, both indoors and outdoors, has been shown to have a significant impact on human health. In the course of the corona pandemic, Harvard University has been researching the impact of air pollution on people suffering from COVID-19. A significant correlation was found between polluted air and a higher mortality rate. According to this, there is an increased risk of death for sick people if they live in a region with high levels of air pollution. Because polluted air causes an increased risk of chronic respiratory and heart diseases, which can be fatal in connection with an infection by coronaviruses. A slight increase in the fine dust concentration of just 1μg / m3 PM2.5 therefore causes 15% more deaths. [1]

Due to their structures and surface properties, viruses can bind to particles very well and can therefore also be detected in fine dust. In order to remain intact and thus also infectious, viruses require certain environmental conditions, which, however, differ greatly depending on the type of virus. SARS CoV-2 can only survive a few hours in the air and is present in the outside air in such a low concentration that, according to the current state of knowledge, no infection is to be feared in this way.

In order to reduce the mortality rate in the future, measures must be taken to improve air quality. The current lockdown in many European countries is already reducing emissions of harmful substances such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. [3]

We usually spend around 90% of our time indoors, probably even more with the current lockdown. But research now confirms that indoor air quality is up to seven times worse than outdoor air quality. [4] And that has consequences. Not only does the risk of respiratory diseases and heart problems increase, but cognitive memory is also damaged. This can ultimately lead to mood swings, depression and long-term dementia, among other things. [5]

The most important indicator for evaluating indoor air quality is the CO2 concentration in a room. This depends on both the number of people in the room and the type of ventilation. [6] Proper ventilation helps to improve the indoor climate. Regular and correct ventilation is therefore particularly important if the building is not equipped with a ventilation system. An infection through such a system has so far not been found in the related SARS virus or in COVID-19 and, according to experts, transmission in this way is very unlikely. [7]

In short, indoor and outdoor air pollution is a major factor in the current challenge in the fight against the coronavirus. In order to counteract (chronic) respiratory and heart diseases as well as cognitive disorders, continuous work must be done to improve air quality. In the next few weeks we will deal in more detail with improving indoor air quality and provide you with extensive information material.

If you already want to know more about air pollution: Prof. Alex Tabarrok from George Mason University (Washington DC) gives an overview of the latest research in his video contribution "The Hidden Cost of Pollution", which examines how pollution negatively impacts employment, IQ, productivity and health.

Photo: Tridsanu Thopet, Shutterstock.


[1] The Guardian (2020): Air pollution linked to far higher Covid-19 death rates, study finds,, [04/20/2020]

[2] Federal Environment Agency (2020): Coronavirus: Significance of air pollution, [17.04.2020]

[3] Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorological Instituut (2020): Afname luchtvervuiling boven Europe, [04/20/2020]

[4] Eicholtz, P., Kok, N., Palacios, J. (2019): Moving to Productivity: The Benefits of Healthy Buildings, [17.04 .2020]

[5] Palacios, J. (2019): Inside Buildings: Environment, Health and Performance, [04/17/2020]

[6] Palacios, J. (2019): Inside Buildings: Environment, Health and Performance, [04/17/2020]

[7] Magdans, F. (2020): Ventilation systems in Corona times. Reduce the concentration of viruses, [04/20/2020]



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