Studying the effect of particulate matter as SARS-CoV-2 transmitters

Date Icon Publish Date
  • Abdulrahim R. Hakami
    Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia.
  • Gasim Dobie
    Department of Medical Laboratory Technology, Jazan University, Jazan, Saudi Arabia.


Background: Studies of risk factors are especially valuable at this difficult time in the midst of a pandemic. High levels of particulate matter (PM) represent a serious risk factor on health. While this is a direct impact on health, indirect effects are worth considering too.

Design and Methods:
 The aim of this study was to investigate the role of PM in the transmission of viruses, especially SARS-CoV-2. Also, we sought to understand dynamics of PM in still air at high and low altitudes. Historic AQI and physical PM measurements were collected between August and September 2020 using air quality detector. Potential correlations between the number of total confirmed COVID-19 cases and average air quality index (AQI) from varied geographic locations were also assessed.

Airborne PM levels were weakly associated with COVID-19 cases after analysing 77 territories. PM remained longer in the air at high altitudes compared to measurements made at sea level. This suggests that the link between PM and COVID-19 transmission could be aggravated in areas of high altitude.

This article highlights that particulate matter can be involved in SARS-CoV-2 transmission. However, confounding factors may have impacted the association between the two variables. These findings can serve as a foundation for future studies on the effect of air pollutants and fine particulate matter on viral transmission.


Cucinotta D, Vanelli M. WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. Acta Biomed 2020;91:157–60.

Khan A, Bieh KL, El-Ganainy A, et al. Estimating the COVID-19 risk during the Hajj Pilgrimage. J Travel Med 2020;27:taaa157. DOI:

Ebrahim SH, Memish ZA. Saudi Arabia's measures to curb the COVID-19 outbreak: temporary suspension of the Umrah pilgrimage. J Travel Med 2020;27:taaa029. DOI:

Wang J, Du G. COVID-19 may transmit through aerosol. Ir J Med Sci 2020;189:1143-4. DOI:

Borro M, Di Girolamo P, Gentile G, et al. Evidence-based considerations exploring relations between SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and air pollution: Involvement of PM2.5-mediated up-regulation of the viral receptor ACE-2. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020;17:5573. DOI:

Zoran MA, Savastru RS, Savastru DM, Tautan MN. Assessing the relationship between surface levels of PM2.5 and PM10 particulate matter impact on COVID-19 in Milan, Italy. Sci Total Environ 2020;738:139825. DOI:

Kyung SY, Jeong SH. Particulate-Matter related respiratory diseases. Tuberc Respir Dis (Seoul) 2020;83:116-21. DOI:

Borak J. Airborne transmission of COVID-19. Occup Med (Lond) 2020;70:297-9. DOI:

Wilson N, Corbett S, Tovey E. Airborne transmission of Covid-19. BMJ 2020;370:m3206. DOI:

Ran J, Zhao S, Han L, et al. Effects of particulate matter exposure on the transmissibility and case fatality rate of COVID-19: A nationwide ecological study in China. J Travel Med 2020;27:taaa133. DOI:

Garbey M, Joerger G, Furr S. A systems approach to assess transport and diffusion of hazardous airborne particles in a large surgical suite: Potential impacts on viral airborne transmission. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020;17:5404. DOI:

Plume Labs. Worldwide air pollution map and live air quality levels. 2020. Accessed: 23 August 2020. Available from:

Churches T, Jorm L. Flexible, freely available stochastic individual contact model for exploring COVID-19 intervention and control strategies: Development and simulation. JMIR Public Health Surveill 2020;6:e18965. DOI:

Vuong NM, Le Quyen NT, Tra DT, et al. The second wave of COVID-19 in a tourist hotspot in Vietnam. J Travel Med 2021;28:taaa174. DOI:

Nakata Y, Omori R. Epidemic dynamics with a time-varying susceptibility due to repeated infections. J Biol Dyn 2019;13:567-85. DOI:

Li H, Xu X-L, Dai D-W, et al. Air pollution and temperature are associated with increased COVID-19 incidence: A time series study. Int J Infect Dis 2020;97:278-82. DOI:

Kim S, Seo YB, Jung E. Prediction of COVID-19 transmission dynamics using a mathematical model considering behavior changes in Korea. Epidemiol Health 2020;42:e2020026. DOI:

Randolph HE, Barreiro LB. Herd immunity: Understanding COVID-19. Immunity 2020;52:737–41. DOI:

Dobson R, Semple S. Changes in outdoor air pollution due to COVID-19 lockdowns differ by pollutant: evidence from Scotland. Occup Environ Med 2020;77:798-800. DOI:

Anil I, Alagha O. The impact of COVID-19 lockdown on the air quality of Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. Air Qual Atmos Health 2021;14:117-28. DOI:

Sram RJ. Impact of air pollution on the health of the population in parts of the Czech Republic. Int J Environl Res Public Health 2020;17:6454. DOI:

Xing Y-F, Xu Y-H, Shi M-H, Lian Y-X. The impact of PM2.5 on the human respiratory system. J Thorac Dis 2016;8:e69–74.

Stieb DM, Evans GJ, To TM, et al. An ecological analysis of long-term exposure to PM2.5 and incidence of COVID-19 in Canadian health regions. Environ Res 2020;191:110052. DOI:

Mesallam TA, Farahat M, Shoeib R, et al. Acute effects of inhaling Oud incense on voice of Saudi adults. Ann Saudi Med 2015;35:111–9. DOI:

Stockfelt L, Fagerberg B. [Air pollution may exacerbate covid-19].[Article in Swedish]. Lakartidningen 2020;117:20087.

Havers FP, Reed C, Lim T, et al. Seroprevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in 10 sites in the United States, March 23-May 12, 2020. JAMA Intern Med 2020;180:1576-86. DOI:

Cox LA, Popken DA. Should air pollution health effects assumptions be tested? Fine particulate matter and COVID-19 mortality as an example. Glob Epidemiol 2020;2:100033. DOI:

Karan A, Ali K, Teelucksingh S, Sakhamuri S. The impact of air pollution on the incidence and mortality of COVID-19. Glob Health Res Policy 2020;5:39. DOI:

Frontera A, Cianfanelli L, Vlachos K, et al. Severe air pollution links to higher mortality in COVID-19 patients: The “double-hit” hypothesis. J Infect 2020;81:255-9. DOI:

Hossain MP, Junus A, Zhu X, et al. The effects of border control and quarantine measures on the spread of COVID-19. Epidemics 2020;32:100397. DOI:

Felsenstein S, Hedrich CM. SARS-CoV-2 infections in children and young people. Clin Immunol 2020;220:108588. DOI:

Our most popular topics on Journal of Public Health Research

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.