Vol. 4 No. 2 (2021): July-December [Edit closure: 01/07/2021]
Suggested quote (APA, seventh edition)
Gonzales Loli, M. R., Carrasco Salazar, C., Cavero Soto, L. A., & Bellina Schrader, L. Y. (2021). Air pollution due to lack of environmental education and death rate from COVID-19. Delectus, 4(2), 113-118. https://doi.org/10.36996/delectus.v4i2.137
Federico Villareal National University, Peru
Federico Villareal National University, Peru
Federico Villareal National University, Peru
Federico Villareal National University, Peru
The research problem was: how does air pollution due to lack of environmental education influence the growth of the COVID-19 mortality rate?; the research was justified because the analysis of air pollution leads the State to implement more efficient and adequate mechanisms of environmental education to counteract environmental pollution and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The materials used were bibliographic sources of books and scientific articles; the method was eminently dogmatic, non-experimental, deductive and basic; the result was that air pollution is generated by the lack of environmental education that causes the decrease of the immune system of people, making them prone to mortality by COVID-19. It was concluded that air pollution due to lack of environmental education is the main factor in the increase of the mortality rate.Keywords: air pollution; environmental education; COVID-19; COVID-19 mortality rate.
Research on air pollution due to lack of environmental education leading to an increase in the mortality rate due to COVID-19 has been carried out all over the world. In Peru, the pandemic has led to the adoption of a series of measures such as distancing, closure of businesses or restriction of traffic hours, to mention some of them regulated by Emergency Decree No. 026-2020. However, even this has not been enough to prevent the death of thousands of Peruvians, especially older adults. However, according to the study, air pollution is generally caused by the lack of environmental education of people who produce polluting gases such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which have led to the growth of the death rate by COVID-19. In this regard, Harvard University has established that poor air quality raises the mortality rate to 8% due to COVID-19 (cited by PUCP, 2020). In the same line, some pre-pandemic studies conducted in China concluded that the storage of airborne pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, toxins and others, increase at exorbitant levels of pollution (Asia Pacific | Parliamentary Observatory, 2020).
The World Health Organization (WHO) itself has considered that air pollution is a public health issue and also an environmental education issue, estimating that approximately seven million people die from diseases linked to poor air quality and about 91% live in cities that exceed the pollution limits established by that international institution (WHO, 2018). In 2019, the city of Lima has been considered the second most polluted city in Latin America; in that sense, the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the PUCP has developed a research on the "Development of an air quality monitoring system in urban areas with low-cost measurement modules in real time and Artificial Intelligence techniques", for which they have created the monitoring network to be able to measure the air quality of the city of Lima, in which they evidenced that in the city of Lima has 5 polluting gases: carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) (Cavero, 2019, p. 12).
It is important to point out that in the social isolation stage in the city of Lima, it has been detected that dust has decreased up to 60%; and sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide (the latter is the residue of vehicular traffic), have decreased up to 95%. The levels of nitrogen dioxide and ozone have also been reduced, but in a lower percentage, and in some places, they have been maintained due to possible activities that did not respect the measures established by the government, but if there were environmental education, air decontamination would be more efficient (Arenas, 2020, p. 34).
The data described above show that the reduction of polluting gases generates a positive impact on air quality in the city of Lima, being more efficient with environmental education, prudentially improving the immune system of people. This explains that air pollution is the slow poisoning of our body, and when this is tested with an infection such as COVID-19, obtaining a limited ability to defend themselves, especially for those over 60 years; which draws attention to the authorities to create the necessary conditions to address future pandemic situations, and design strategies to eliminate air pollution as part of our health; as an effect of the confinement in large part has reduced significantly the data of air pollution. Some governments are taking advantage of this situation to implement measures that in the long term can benefit citizens in terms of the quality of the air they breathe. The purpose of the research is to highlight that air pollution is the main factor that weakens society, lowers defenses and raises the mortality rate due to COVID-19; its importance lies in the fact that it allows society and authorities to implement a series of strategies to mitigate and eliminate air pollution, as preventive measures for future pandemics.
Air pollution is a serious health problem and it is a major vector for the development of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases (Gutierres, 1997, p. 45). It is not an abstract concept, it is a real phenomenon that is currently responsible worldwide for: 18% of diseases resulting from diabetes, 14% of lung cancer cases, 34% of obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cases, 11% of cardiovascular diseases and 7% of heart attacks (Diaz, 2016, p. 23). Air pollution is a phenomenon that was already seriously attacking public health before the COVID-19 crisis and is now positioned as a pandemic ally; seen the current effects and the growth forecasts in the damage to our health in the coming years, work must be done to reduce emissions of polluting gases as a priority in terms of energy transition and environment (Lopez, 2017, p. 14).
Air pollution is on the rise, especially in the capital of Peru, caused by deficient legislation that is currently in place, as a result of the fragmentation of the different actors, whether municipal, regional or national, which has led to a confused environmental situation with irresponsible attitudes (Valdiviezo, 2021, p. 45). In the city of Lima, the main medium prone to pollution is the air, caused mainly by the vehicle fleet and industries that release into the atmosphere gases, vapors or solid particles capable of remaining in the environment for long periods of time, affecting the life and health of humans, animals and plants. Faced with this, the authorities of the capital of the republic and the central government have done little or nothing to implement clear policies to mitigate environmental air pollution, especially from the vehicle fleet in Lima, which cause discomfort in the population, directly affecting the health and life of the person (Camacho, 2017).
In relation to air quality and the implementation of policies favorable to continuing this trend, the Clean Air and Energy Research Center has made a compilation of scientific research that posits that exposure to air pollution makes people more vulnerable to COVID-19 (Clean Air and Energy Research Center, 2020, p. 3).
Environmental education seeks to issue and transfer knowledge, knowledge and also teachings to people or citizens as a whole in relation to the protection and care of the balanced environment, the natural environment and therefore of air, about the importance that should be taken by the protection of the environment that surrounds us, to generate habits and behaviors of environmental protection within society. Being necessary that each person assumes a conscious international position regardless of their social, racial or economic status (Reynosa Navarro, 2015), incorporating values and principles, necessary for survival and life. This practice will allow in this time of pandemic to help the improvement of the immune system, especially of people over 60 years old and face the pandemic with greater defenses (Cardenas, 2020, p. 45).
Mortality rate by COVID-19
The growth of the mortality rate by COVID-19, consists of the proportion of people who die with respect to the total population in a given city or nation in a given period of time by COVID-19, usually calculated in thousands or percentages per day, month or year. (Zamora, 2021, p. 23). The mortality rate refers to the number of people with a particular characteristic who die in relation to the total number of people with that characteristic (Mariño, 2021, p. 65).
The research problem is described as follows: how does air pollution due to lack of environmental education influence the growth of COVID-19 mortality rate? The objective is to determine how air pollution due to lack of environmental education influences the growth of COVID-19 mortality rate. The scope of the research has been developed from a deductive method and basic type, its level of depth has been effective and efficient because of its broad theoretical content, the feasibility of the objectives and the possible solution established through the hypotheses. The research is justified because the analysis of air pollution, leads the State to implement more efficient and adequate mechanisms of environmental education to counteract pollution and therefore mitigate the pandemic of COVID-19; it is hypothesized that air pollution due to lack of environmental education directly influences the growth of the mortality rate by COVID-19.
Regarding the transmission of COVID-19 through contamination caused by aerosols, according to Dr. Elmer Huerta, it has been proven in recent months that the most important route of transmission of this virus is the respiratory route, through microscopic aerosols found in the environment and formed when talking, singing or shouting. The latest recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States indicate that although there can be transmission by contact with contaminated surfaces, the most important form of transmission is in the environment through aerosols transmitted by the respiratory route. Therefore, studies have revealed that the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection by contact with contaminated surfaces is low and can be determined at 1 in 10,000. They also point out that 99% of the infectious particles of the virus disappear in three days on non-porous surfaces such as plastic, glass, steel, among others. A recent commentary published in The Lancer, evidenced several reasons why airborne aerosols are the main way of COVID-19 transmission; among the evidences found we have that the type of massive contagion occurred in events could not be justified simply by contagion of thick droplets on contaminated surfaces but by transmission of aerosols in the air (Huerta, 2020).
It is important to bear in mind that thousands of aerosol particles are produced when speaking, and in asymptomatic people it is enough for them to speak in order to be contagious, which is why the ventilation of uncontaminated air reduces the possibility of contagion. In experiments carried out in patients' rooms, it was possible to isolate viable viral particles, proving that aerosols can remain suspended in the air for variable periods of time. In this sense, contagion will depend on the viral load of the infectious person and the ventilation in the room. Therefore, we must avoid the possibility of contagion through aerosols in the environment.
The research was carried out on the basis of comparative doctrine and legislation, that is, the materials used were the bibliographic sources found in books and scientific articles of the WHO and Harvard University; the method was eminently dogmatic, non-experimental, deductive and of a basic type.
The results found were:
Based on the findings, the hypothesis is accepted, which establishes that air pollution due to lack of environmental education directly influences the growth of the COVID-19 mortality rate, according to national and international studies. These results are in line with Harvard University, which has established that poor air quality and lack of environmental education raise the mortality rate to 8% due to COVID-19 (PUCP, 2020) and contribute to the rapid growth of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused immense levels of mortality; pre-pandemic studies conducted in China that the storage of airborne pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, toxins and others, increase to exorbitant levels of contamination (Asia Pacific | Parliamentary Observatory, 2020).
The World Health Organization (WHO) has considered that air pollution responds to the lack of environmental education and is a public health issue and has estimated that approximately seven million people die from diseases caused by poor air quality and about 91% live in cities that exceed the established pollution limits (WHO, 2018). In Peru, the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the PUCP has developed a research on the development of an air quality monitoring system in urban areas with low-cost real-time measurement modules and Artificial Intelligence techniques, in which they evidenced the presence of 5 polluting gases in the city of Lima: carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), ozone (O3) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S). These authors state that air pollution is one of the main factors in the growth of mortality due to COVID-19; this is in agreement with the findings of the present study (PUCP, 2020).
The point of disagreement with these authors is that they only focus on the response and care of those infected by COVID-19, while this study expands on these results; therefore, it suggests that the Peruvian State, in coordination with regional and local governments, should implement mechanisms and programs to mitigate air pollution, especially environmental education programs, thereby reducing the mortality rate due to COVID-19 and being prepared for future pandemics.
We thank the institution for allowing us to publish this scientific article.
Conflict of interest
There has been no conflict of interest.
Source of financing
The article has been entirely self-financed by the authors.
Ethical / legal aspects
We declare that the present article does not transgress any ethical norms, much less legal ones.
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