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Can particulate matter be identified as the primary cause of the rapid spread of CoViD-19 in some areas of Northern Italy?

  • Collivignarelli, Maria Cristina1, 1
  • Abbà, Alessandro2
  • Caccamo, Francesca Maria1
  • Bertanza, Giorgio2
  • Pedrazzani, Roberta2
  • Baldi, Marco1
  • Ricciardi, Paola1
  • Carnevale Miino, Marco1
  • 1 University of Pavia,
  • 2 University of Brescia,
Published Article
Environmental Science and Pollution Research
Publication Date
Feb 26, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11356-021-12735-x
PMID: 33638072
PMCID: PMC7909738
PubMed Central


Northern Italy was the most affected by CoViD-19 compared to other Italian areas and comprises zones where air pollutants concentration was higher than in the rest of Italy. The aim of the research is to determine if particulate matter (PM) has been the primary cause of the high CoViD-19 spread rapidity in some areas of Northern Italy. Data of PM for all the 41 studied cities were collected from the local environmental protection agencies. To compare air quality data with epidemiological data, a statistical analysis was conducted identifying the correlation matrices of Pearson and Spearman, considering also the possible incubation period of the disease. Moreover, a model for the evaluation of the epidemic risk, already proposed in literature, was used to evaluate a possible influence of PM on CoViD-19 spread rapidity. The results exclude that PM alone was the primary cause of the high CoVid-19 spread rapidity in some areas of Northern Italy. Further developments are necessary for a better comprehension of the influence of atmospheric pollution parameters on the rapidity of spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2, since a synergistic action with other factors (such as meteorological, socio-economic and cultural factors) could not be excluded by the present study. Supplementary Information The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11356-021-12735-x.

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