Wednesday 04 August 2021

Air pollution makes Covid-19 worse in 20% of Dutch patients: study

Cattle contribute to bad air quality Photo: Deposit photos

A statistical study by Germany’s Max Planck Institute shows that bad air quality played a role in 15% of corna deaths deaths worldwide and in one in five in the Netherlands.

Air pollution was an aggravating factor for some 2,200 Dutch people whose health was already affected by air pollution, the study said.

‘People in areas with more air pollution more often have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, pneumonia, cancer and heart disease,’ Dutch head of the institute’s chemistry branch Jos Lelieveld told the AD. ‘The impact of Covid 19 on these people is much more severe,’ he said.

The study is based on data about the connection between coronavirus outbreaks in China and the US and bad air quality, coupled with satellite measurements of the amount of fine particulates in the air around the world.

Some 15% of coronavirus deaths worldwide can be linked to air pollution, the study claims. The research puts the Netherlands at the European average of 19%.

This is not the first study to make the connection between corona deaths and bad air quality, the paper said. Doctors and politicians in Brabant and Limburg already pointed to a possible connection between the relatively large number of deaths in the province in the spring and the presence of ammonia and fine particulates in the air due to the large number of cattle in the province.

The Dutch health institute RIVM said at the time it would be investigating the link between corona deaths and increased air pollution because of cattle farming but said more polluters had to be factored in, such as industry and traffic.

Lelieveld said the link between air pollution and corona deaths had been found in many studies and that it is ‘robust’.  ‘It shows the importance of clean air is for people’s health. It’s a call to everyone to take this seriously and to politicians to take action,’ he said.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.