The emergence of COVID-19 and the spread of this novel disease around the world in 2020 has entailed several cultural changes; some of those changes are positive for the environment, such as the decrease in the concentration of atmospheric particulate matter. We compared the concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 recorded in October and November 2019 (pre-pandemic period) with the concentrations recorded from May to October 2020 (pandemic period) in the city of Arequipa, Peru. A significant decrease in the concentration of PM2.5 (less than 21.0%) and PM10 (less than 21.5%) was observed on Sundays, when population movement was strongly restricted. First, we observed a significant correlation between PM2.5 and PM10 concentration in the atmosphere and the number of infections reported in Arequipa, Peru. However, when we removed the data of Sundays from the database, these correlations were no longer significant. Subsequently, we correlated PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations with the number of COVID-19 infections on the same day and up to a 20-day delay and found that from day 15 to day 18, PM10 concentration was significantly correlated with COVID-19 infections, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 might circulate attached to the coarse particle (PM10) and that this fraction would act as infection vector. However, these results may reflect other factors, such as social or economic factors that could explain the dynamics of infection in Arequipa, Peru. Further research is needed to better understand the dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge the funding provided by UNSA-INVESTIGA of the National University of San Agustín de Arequipa (IBA-040) to carry out this research.
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.