Health

Reno wildfire smoke linked to increased risk of contracting COVID-19

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Cases of COVID-19 rose sharply last year in Reno, Nevada, when a heavy layer of wildfire smoke settled over the city, according to scientists at the Desert Research Institute, and they and other scientists are postulating that there is a link between air pollution and increased susceptibility to the new coronavirus.

“Our results showed a substantial increase in the COVID-19 positivity rate in Reno during a time when we were affected by heavy wildfire smoke from California wildfires,” said Daniel Kiser, a co-lead author of the study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. “This is important to be aware of as we are already confronting heavy wildfire smoke … with COVID-19 cases again rising in Nevada and other parts of the western U.S.”

Kiser, an assistant research scientist of data science at the institute, said he became interested in studying the effect of the microscopic particulate matter from wildfires after reading a Canadian scientist’s article on the dual effect of confronting both issues at the same time.

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