Global quarantine as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has decreased fossil fuel use which may affect allergic and respiratory diseases, according to an editorial published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Air pollution is a causative factor of symptoms such as bronchospasm, rhinorrhea, and eye redness and irritation, as well as allergic diseases such as asthma, chronic rhinitis, nasal polyps, atopic dermatitis, seasonal or perennial allergic conjunctivitis, and vernal or atopic keraconjunctivitis. Through climate change, worldwide emission of greenhouse gasses (ie, nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide) has caused an increase in air humidity, mold exposure, and modified pollen patterns, which in turn, increased sensitization rates and allergic disease prevalence.

Authorities worldwide have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by decreeing a global quarantine in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO). As a result, human activities have been drastically decreased with a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Decreases in nitrogen dioxide by as much as 25% have been described in China between January 1-20, 2020, (before quarantine) and February 10-25, 2020 (during quarantine). Similar decreases were observed in countries around the world where containment was set for limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Examples of regional decrease in use of fossil fuels being related to decreased exacerbations of allergic disease have been observed, therefore even if the global containment lasts for 1 or 2 months, the effect on air quality should be significant for allergic diseases in the coming months.


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The authors wrote that the COVID-19 pandemic “may offer an unintended insight on a global scale into the impact of decreased fossil fuel use on allergic and respiratory disease.”

Reference

Navel V, Chiambaretta F, Dutheil F. Will environmental impacts of social distancing due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic decrease allergic disease [published online April 26, 2020]? Editorial. J Allergy Clin Immunol. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2020.04.026