Better air in lockdown may have saved hundreds of lives in Europe, study finds

More than 800 deaths may have been avoided due to air quality improvements during lockdown across Europe. 

Strict COVID-19 lockdown policies such as workplace closures in European cities reduced levels of air pollution and the number of associated deaths, according to new estimates published in Scientific Reports.

The study compared government policies from 47 European cities from February to July 2020, and estimated the changes in pollution levels related to the number of deaths avoided during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. London, Paris, Barcelona, and Milan were among the cities with the highest number of avoided deaths.

Dr Earim Chaudry, MD of men’s health platform Manual said:

“Although lockdown impacted virtually everybody’s life in different ways,  it was beneficial for our health for more than just Covid-related reasons, and we’re only really seeing the benefits now. Air quality has improved across Europe, which can help deter premature deaths from strokes, heart disease, lung cancer,  as well as asthma.

“These findings are extremely significant in helping us better understand the direct link between air quality and diseases, and what measures need to be put into place to help tackle air pollution across Europe.”


How to improve air quality in your home

While UK lockdowns are over, at least for the time being, you can still improve the air quality within your home.  Here’s some tips from the team at Manual:


1. Prevent condensation 

Prolonged exposure to damp indoors can affect lung function and exacerbate conditions like asthma.  You can reduce condensation in the home by drying your washing outside, or in a tumble drier where possible. If you can’t do that, try a well-ventilated room (with the windows open) or airing cupboard. You could also consider using an extraction fan in the kitchen and bathroom. This will prevent damp and mould.


2. Vacuum regularly 

The accumulation of dead skin cells, dirt, dander and bacteria in your carpets is not healthy, and will impact the air in your home.  This can easily be removed by vaccuuming regularly, which will improve the air quality in your home. You can also replace carpets with wood or laminate flooring, as this will prevent dust build-up.


3. Invest in an air purifier

Air purifiers are great for anyone who suffers from allergies inside the home. Placed in the most commonly used areas of the house, these devices can help capture some of the irritants that may trigger your symptoms.


4. Open the Windows

Keeping the airflow circulating around your home is one of the best ways to improve air quality. Opening the windows regularly will reduce the humidity that dust mites need to survive – and it will also reduce the spread of COVID 19.


5. Avoid the air fresheners 

Air fresheners may make your home smell nice, however, they also release harmful chemicals into the air which are then breathed in. Swap to naturally fragranced or fragrance-free products, or even natural products such as vanilla sticks.


6. Keep a smoke free home

Toxic tobacco particles can linger in the air for hours, which can be hugely harmful to those suffering from asthma or other respiratory breathing problems. Lighting candles and incense sticks also emit carbon monoxide and dioxide into the air, which can also decrease the air quality in your home.


7. Tackle Mould and Mildew

Mould and mildew can lead to air quality problems, especially for those with breathing issues. Reduce the chance for mould by fixing any leaking plumbing or drainage issues, and use a damp cloth to scrub the area until it is gone.  If a room is prone to mould, ensure it is well ventilated and open windows regularly to improve airflow.