Short-term influence of environmental factors and social variables COVID-19 disease in Spain during first wave (Feb–May 2020)

Dante R. Culqui*, Julio Díaz, Alexander Blanco, José A. Lopez, Miguel A. Navas, Gerardo Sánchez-Martínez, M. Yolanda Luna, Beatriz Hervella, Fernando Belda, Cristina Linares

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study aims to identify the combined role of environmental pollutants and atmospheric variables at short term on the rate of incidence (TIC) and on the hospital admission rate (TIHC) due to COVID-19 disease in Spain. This study used information from 41 of the 52 provinces of Spain (from Feb. 1, 2021 to May 31, 2021). Using TIC and TIHC as dependent variables, and average daily concentrations of PM10 and NO2 as independent variables. Meteorological variables included maximum daily temperature (Tmax) and average daily absolute humidity (HA). Generalized linear models (GLM) with Poisson link were carried out for each provinces The GLM model controlled for trend, seasonalities, and the autoregressive character of the series. Days with lags were established. The relative risk (RR) was calculated by increases of 10 μg/m3 in PM10 and NO2 and by 1 °C in the case of Tmax and 1 g/m3 in the case of HA. Later, a linear regression was carried out that included the social determinants of health. Statistically significant associations were found between PM10, NO2, and the rate of COVID-19 incidence. NO2 was the variable that showed greater association, both for TIC as well as for TIHC in the majority of provinces. Temperature and HA do not seem to have played an important role. The geographic distribution of RR in the studied provinces was very much heterogeneous. Some of the health determinants considered, including income per capita, presence of airports, average number of diesel cars per inhabitant, average number of nursing personnel, and homes under 30 m2 could explain the differential geographic behavior. As findings indicates, environmental factors only could modulate the incidence and severity of COVID-19. Moreover, the social determinants and public health measures could explain some patterns of geographically distribution founded.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Pages (from-to)50392–50406
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Health determinants
  • Meteorological factors


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