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Climate and Environment

LA County Communities With High Car Pollution Also Have High COVID-19 Fatality Rates, Study Notes

The downtown skyline is enveloped in smog shortly before sunset on November 17, 2006 in Los Angeles.
File photo: The downtown skyline is enveloped in smog shortly before sunset on November 17, 2006 in Los Angeles.
(David McNew/Getty Images)
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L.A. County neighborhoods with higher car pollution have higher fatality rates for COVID-19, according to a new study from UCLA.

Researchers found a lot of overlap in Black and Brown communities.

"South Central Los Angeles, and then East Los Angeles where we have much higher levels of traffic related air pollution. We also saw some spiking in areas around Long Beach, coming out of the ports," UCLA Environmental Health professor Michael Jerrett said.

He said air pollution causes pre-existing conditions that make people more susceptible to respiratory infections. "There's very strong literature on the links between diabetes formation and traffic-related air pollution," he said.

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Jerrett said while socioeconomically disadvantaged zip codes are being prioritized for vaccination, the Healthy Places Index should explicitly account for air pollution exposure.

You can read the full study here.