Recerca, Planificació urbana, medi ambient i salut


Air Pollution in Relation to COVID-19 Morbidity and Mortality: A Large Population-Based Cohort Study in Catalonia

COVAIR-CAT project logo
Foto: Anna Shvets / Pexels
01/03/2021 - 28/02/2023
Cathryn Tonne
Health Effects Institute

Exposure to air pollution may contribute to the wide disparities between and within countries in the health burden from COVID-19. Air pollution is an important risk factor for several non-communicable diseases that increase vulnerability to COVID-19. Understanding whether the role of air pollution in COVID-19 is different from its role in the wider suite of respiratory infections is essential for identifying public health priorities.


The objective of COVAIR-CAT is to test whether long or short-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of COVID-19 hospital admissions or mortality and to identify vulnerable subgroups in the general population of Catalonia.

The project aims to test whether:

  • 1) long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with COVID-19 hospital admission or mortality;
  • 2) short-term exposure to air pollution is associated with COVID-19 hospital admission or mortality following COVID-19 diagnosis;
  • 3) the influence of long- or short-term exposure to air pollution on COVID-19 outcomes differs according to individual-level socio-demographic factors, comorbidities, area-level socioeconomic factors, or other environmental exposures; and
  • 4) the influence of long-term air pollution exposure on COVID-19 hospital admissions and mortality differs from that for respiratory infections not due to SARS-COV-2 infection.

We will use data linkage of electronic health records to construct a large, population-based cohort covering nearly the full population of Catalonia. By leveraging, individual-level data from primary care, laboratory testing, hospital admissions, and mortality registries, we will follow all adult individuals registered in the public health system of Catalonia, Spain in 2015 (n=5 million) through the end of 2020. Geocoded residential addresses will be linked to modeled particulate matter (PM10, PM10-2.5, PM2.5, PM2.5 absorbance), oxides of nitrogen, and ozone.

COVAIR-CAT will generate new, practical knowledge related to the intersection of two major public health challenges: air pollution and COVID-19.

Total Funding

500,000 USD

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