Assessing the relationship between surface levels of PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter impact on COVID-19 in Milan, Italy

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Oct 10:738:139825. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139825. Epub 2020 Jun 2.


The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a highly pathogenic, transmittable and invasive pneumococcal disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which emerged in December 2019 and January 2020 in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China and fast spread later on the middle of February 2020 in the Northern part of Italy and Europe. This study investigates the correlation between the degree of accelerated diffusion and lethality of COVID-19 and the surface air pollution in Milan metropolitan area, Lombardy region, Italy. Daily average concentrations of inhalable particulate matter (PM) in two size fractions PM2.5, PM10 and maxima PM10 ground level atmospheric pollutants together air quality and climate variables (daily average temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, atmospheric pressure field and Planetary Boundary Layer-PBL height) collected during 1 January-30 April 2020 were analyzed. In spite of being considered primarily transmitted by indoor bioaerosols droplets and infected surfaces, or direct human-to-human personal contacts, it seems that high levels of urban air pollution, weather and specific climate conditions have a significant impact on the increased rates of confirmed COVID-19 Total number, Daily New and Total Deaths cases, possible attributed not only to indoor but also to outdoor airborne bioaerosols distribution. Our analysis demonstrates the strong influence of daily averaged ground levels of particulate matter concentrations, positively associated with average surface air temperature and inversely related to air relative humidity on COVID-19 cases outbreak in Milan. Being a novel pandemic coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) version, COVID-19 might be ongoing during summer conditions associated with higher temperatures and low humidity levels. Presently is not clear if this protein "spike" of the new coronavirus COVID-19 is involved through attachment mechanisms on indoor or outdoor airborne aerosols in the infectious agent transmission from a reservoir to a susceptible host in some agglomerated urban areas like Milan is.

Keywords: Air quality; Coronavirus COVID-19; Meteorological parameters; NOAA satellite data; Particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10).

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution*
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • China
  • Cities
  • Coronavirus Infections*
  • Coronavirus*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Pandemics*
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Pneumonia, Viral*
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter