Coronavirus and the role of particulate matter
The Italian Society of Environmental Medicine has recently announced to have found in atmospheric particulate matter the novel coronavirus. In particular, the researchers have analyzed samples of PM10 in air in the region around Bergamo, a city in north Italy, for a period of three weeks between February and March. Among the 22 analyzed days, 8 days showed the presence of the virus. What does this mean?
First of all, that in this way it will be possible, just analyzing the air samples, to understand the behavior of the virus and, in case of an increase of its presence, to put in place preventive measures in time.
Then, in case of high concentrations of PM10, it is possible that infected droplets that contain the virus become stable, thus surviving longer in air inside particulate clusters. However, it has not yet been clarified whether the virus may still be infective. Other researches will follow to understand better. For sure, waiting for more results, it is important to keep under control the levels of particulates in air and to require that in every environments people wear a mask, the scientists say. This consideration is made also in the light of the observations that in Italy, China and United States the epidemic is more severe in the more polluted areas that show high levels of particulates in air.