EPA enforcement suspension may be connected to increased pollution and COVID-19 deaths

Pexels / Maatla Kebs

New evidence has emerged on the connection between air pollution and COVID-19 deaths, suggesting that EPA’s suspension of enforcement activities has exacerbated the problem, E&E reports.

The working paper, released by researchers from American University, found soot and ozone pollution increased in counties with more than six industrial facilities that reported emissions to an EPA pollution database since the Agency announced it would not conduct enforcement activities in March. Those counties with more industrial facilities saw a 19% increase in daily COVID-19 deaths and a 39% increase in total infections compared to counties with fewer industrial facilities. Those increases were even greater in areas with larger Black and unemployed populations, the researchers found.

“Not only was there an increase in pollution, but this increase in pollution contributed to a worsening of the pandemic,” Claudia Persico, the study’s lead author and an assistant public policy professor at American University, said during a Wednesday webinar. The paper is currently undergoing peer review.

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