Dr. Arshad Nair

University at Albany, United States

Invited Speech: Race-ethnicity disparities in COVID-19 outcomes may be worsened by shorter- and long-term aerosol pollutants exposure

Biography:

Postdoctoral Associate, University at Albany, State University of New York, United States

Arshad Arjunan Nair is a Postdoctoral Associate at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center and School of Public Health. He received his PhD in the Atmospheric Sciences from SUNY Albany and his Dual-Degree BS-MS in Physics from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune. Dr. Nair has contributed significantly to our understanding of various impacts of atmospheric ammonia and aerosols on weather & climate and air quality using synergistic approaches that have cross-disciplinary implications. An atmospheric physicist by training, he seeks to apply additional strengths in data science, numerical modeling, and machine learning & artificial intelligence towards our collective efforts at mitigating the climate crisis through improved understanding and modeling of the Earth system and its impacts on human health and well-being. Dr. Nair has a strong publication record, is an effective research communicator, has served as a reviewer for the NSF, Science, and multiple other journals, and mentors historically underrepresented and socioeconomically disadvantaged STEM students.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND AND AIM: The importance of ultrafine particles (UFP or PM0.1) exposure to respiratory disease has been identified. However, its effect (and that of PM2.5) on COVID-19 outcomes remain unknown. This study aims to identify and quantify shorter- and long-term aerosol impacts on COVID-19 in context of disparate outcomes observed for minority race-ethnicity groups in New York State (NYS).

METHODS:
COVID-19 outcomes included infection, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths reported by the CDC COVID-19 Case Surveillance Restricted Access Detailed Data, 2020–2022. UFP&PM2.5 data were simulated by a global three-dimensional chemical transport model with state-of-the-science aerosol microphysical processes extensively validated with observations. For shorter-term (0–30 lag days) UFP&PM2.5 exposure, Distributed Lag Non-linear Model (DLNM), were used to examine the association with county-level adjusting for meteorological factors. Long-term (average level of 2013–2020) -COVID association was assessed by Negative Binomial Mixed Models adjusting for county-level confounders. County-level confounders from the Census Bureau, Behavioral Survey, and Homeland Infrastructure Data were used.

RESULTS: Compared to White, Hispanic/Black subgroups had greater excess risk of COVID-19 infection (+25%), hospitalization (+31%), ICU admission (+60%), and death (+5.5%). Excess risk per IQR increase for long-term UFP (PM2.5) exposure was significant for COVID-19 hospitalization: +40%;95%-CI=20.5– 63.6% (+22%;18.8–25.5%), ICU admission: +44%;39.1–49.2% (+24%;18.6–30.5%), and death: +40%;38.0–42.4% (+19%;8.2–30.7%). For short-term exposure, risks for all COVID-19 outcomes were elevated (RRs range from 1–4.6, all p 2000 #·cm−3 and PM2.5 > 6.3 µg·m−3.

CONCLUSIONS: Both shorter- and long-term exposure to aerosols increased the risk of COVID-19 infection and subsequent outcomes, with ultrafine particles (UFP) exerting larger effects than PM2.5, and with greater likelihood. The UFP and PM2.5-associated risks were disproportionately higher for race-ethnicity minorities (particularly Hispanic and Black) and for their economically vulnerable subgroups.

KEYWORDS: COVID-19, ultrafine aerosol, particulate matter, environmental justice, socioeconomics

Abstract

Dr. Arshad Nair

BACKGROUND AND AIM: The importance of ultrafine particles (UFP or PM0.1) exposure to respiratory disease has been identified. However, its effect (and that of PM2.5) on COVID-19 outcomes remain unknown. This study aims to identify and quantify shorter- and long-term aerosol impacts on COVID-19 in context of disparate outcomes observed for minority race-ethnicity groups in New York State (NYS).

METHODS:
COVID-19 outcomes included infection, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths reported by the CDC COVID-19 Case Surveillance Restricted Access Detailed Data, 2020–2022. UFP&PM2.5 data were simulated by a global three-dimensional chemical transport model with state-of-the-science aerosol microphysical processes extensively validated with observations. For shorter-term (0–30 lag days) UFP&PM2.5 exposure, Distributed Lag Non-linear Model (DLNM), were used to examine the association with county-level adjusting for meteorological factors. Long-term (average level of 2013–2020) -COVID association was assessed by Negative Binomial Mixed Models adjusting for county-level confounders. County-level confounders from the Census Bureau, Behavioral Survey, and Homeland Infrastructure Data were used.

RESULTS: Compared to White, Hispanic/Black subgroups had greater excess risk of COVID-19 infection (+25%), hospitalization (+31%), ICU admission (+60%), and death (+5.5%). Excess risk per IQR increase for long-term UFP (PM2.5) exposure was significant for COVID-19 hospitalization: +40%;95%-CI=20.5– 63.6% (+22%;18.8–25.5%), ICU admission: +44%;39.1–49.2% (+24%;18.6–30.5%), and death: +40%;38.0–42.4% (+19%;8.2–30.7%). For short-term exposure, risks for all COVID-19 outcomes were elevated (RRs range from 1–4.6, all p 2000 #·cm−3 and PM2.5 > 6.3 µg·m−3.

CONCLUSIONS: Both shorter- and long-term exposure to aerosols increased the risk of COVID-19 infection and subsequent outcomes, with ultrafine particles (UFP) exerting larger effects than PM2.5, and with greater likelihood. The UFP and PM2.5-associated risks were disproportionately higher for race-ethnicity minorities (particularly Hispanic and Black) and for their economically vulnerable subgroups.

KEYWORDS: COVID-19, ultrafine aerosol, particulate matter, environmental justice, socioeconomics