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UTD Researchers Show Connection Between Air Quality and COVID-19 Severity

UT Dallas researchers, in collaboration with NASA, used air quality data and COVID 19 hospitalization rates to show correlation between the two

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Ignacio Segovia-Dominguez is not a medical professional, he's a computer scientist at UT Dallas, but his research is helping shed light on arguably the biggest medical issue of this decade; COVID-19.

"So the quality of the air actually affects the COVID-19 hospitalizations rate in many of the cases," Segovia-Dominguez said.

Segovia-Dominguez is lead author of a study done by UT Dallas researchers, in collaboration with NASA, to show the correlation between air quality and the severity of COVID-19 infections.

There are aerosol pollutants in the air we breathe. Some are naturally occurring, like dust. Others are manmade, like car exhaust. Researchers found higher aerosol rates correlated with high COVID-19 hospitalization rates.

Though the research is numbers-driven, Segovia-Dominguez said the pandemic is personal.

"I arrived here one month before COVID-19 started," Segovia-Dominguez said. He moved to North Texas from Mexico. "Some of my colleagues in Mexico died, many of them from COVID-19, so that's very sad."

Segovia-Dominguez said some of the research findings were surprising.

"Unlike seasonal flu, the temperature did not seem to be heavily related with COVID-19," Segovia-Dominguez said. "Which was something we did not expect to see."

Segovia-Dominguez said researchers studied data from Texas, California, and Pennsylvania and found similar results.

"It makes you think, oh my gosh," Segovia-Dominguez said. "I should keep trying to push forward and make a difference."

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