Environment and COVID-19: Pollutants, impacts, dissemination, management and recommendations for facing future epidemic threats

Winfred Espejo, José E. Celis, Gustavo Chiang, Paulina Bahamonde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become a global pandemic. Its relationship with environmental factors is an issue that has attracted the attention of scientists and governments. This article aims to deal with a possible association between COVID-19 and environmental factors and provide some recommendations for adequately controlling future epidemic threats. Environmental management through ecosystem services has a relevant role in exposing and spreading infectious diseases, reduction of pollutants, and control of climatic factors. Pollutants and viruses (such as COVID-19) produce negative immunological responses and share similar mechanisms of action. Therefore, they can have an additive and enhancing role in viral diseases. Significant associations between air pollution and COVID-19 have been reported. Particulate matter (PM2.5, PM10) can obstruct the airway, exacerbating cases of COVID-19. Some climatic factors have been shown to affect SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Yet, it is not well established if climatic factors might have a cause-effect relationship to the spreading of SARS-CoV-2. So far, positive as well as negative indirect environmental impacts have been reported, with negative impacts greater and more persistent. Too little is known about the current pandemic to evaluate whether there is an association between environment and positive COVID-19 cases. We recommend smart technology to collect data remotely, the implementation of “one health” approach between public health physicians and veterinarians, and the use of biodegradable medical supplies in future epidemic threats.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141314
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Environment
  • Environmental impacts
  • One health
  • Pollutants
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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