Molly Schulz – Annotated Bibliography

Dear Reader,

For the annotated bibliography, my topic is looking at the connections between air pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic. This topic is interesting to me because even though we have been living in a world with the coronavirus for almost a year, there are so many connections to other aspects of our daily lives that one might not initially think of. Between this paper and the first draft there are several things I have changed. I changed the formatting of my summary and analysis so that there is less analysis in the summary itself. I have also added some extra detail to my summaries. I made these changes because it helped the overall flow of information for the paper. My peers and my instructor gave me the best feedback for this bibliography because it helped me to see how other people view my paper.

Thanks, Molly

How are Air Pollution and the COVID-19 Pandemic Connected?

Bernstein, Aaron. “Coronavirus and Climate Change.” C-CHANGE | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 6 July 2020, Accessed February 22. 2021.

This source provides lots of commonly asked questions about COVID-19’s effects on the environment and their answers. The questions are answered by Dr. Aaron Bernstein, director of Harvard Chan C-CHANGE. In a section of this article, Dr. Bernstein answers the question, “Does air pollution increase the risk of getting coronavirus? Does it make symptoms worse?” The author states that in places with poor air quality, the risk of death from COVID-19 increases. The pollution in the air makes the respiratory symptoms of the virus worse and therefore causes a higher mortality rate. Bernstein then lists additional sources that back up his claim such as, a study on how pollution increases mortality rates, a study on how air-born pollutants may have increased the spread of the 2015 avian influenza, and the relationship between the air pollution and mortality of SARS in Beijing.

The information from this source presents information on how pollution affects the COVID-19 pandemic, and how pollution affects other viruses. This shows that these two have a more connected relationship than many people know. The author presents this information in a format that makes it seem reliable to the reader by using facts and including supplemental sources. I find this source to be very reliable because of its connection to Harvard, the esteemed university, and its use of other sources. This is a good informational source for this essay because the information is straight to the point and provides simple answers.

Gardiner, Beth. “Pollution Made the Pandemic Worse, but Lockdowns Clean the Sky.” National Geographic, 10 Feb. 2021, Accessed February 22. 2021.

This National Geographic article shows a more positive connection between the virus and pollution. Most people already know that lockdowns have diminished the pollution of some areas of the world because fewer people are commuting. Little do most people know, this reduction of pollution, in some areas, makes cases of COVID-19 that need hospitalization go down. Gardiner uses quotes from good quality sources in her article to show the reliability of her story. She quoted a Harvard biostatistics professor saying that COVID-19 and pollution together are, “‘really putting gasoline on a fire,’ said Francesca Dominici.”(Gardiner). This source mentions other benefits of the lack of pollution such as “in Delhi, where the air is normally choking, levels of both PM2.5 and the harmful gas nitrogen dioxide fell more than 70 percent” (Gardiner).

This source shows the flip side of the circle, how COVID-19 affects pollution. There is something very convenient about one of the most harmful factors of COVID-19 being taken out unintentionally. This is a good source for this essay because it has information that communicates how exactly lockdowns are improving the status of the pandemic. The lockdowns as a result of the pandemic did more good than people realize that they did. One can see through this connection that there are both positive and negative sides of this relationship.

Neira, Maria. “Science in 5 – Episode #9 – Air Pollution & COVID-19.” World Health  Organization, 23 October. 2020,—air-pollution-covid-19. Accessed February 22. 2021.

This next source is a transcript from a podcast from the World Health Organization (WHO). Vismita Gupta-Smith is interviewing Dr. Maria Niera on the bodily impacts of pollution along with COVID-19. The article doesn’t use many accessory sources but Niera’s credentials are stated at the beginning of the podcast. Niera is a physician who is the former director of the public health department of the World Health Organization. She presents her concern saying, “air pollution – as probably many people know by now – represents 7 million premature deaths caused every year,” (Niera). She goes on to explain how pollution affects our bodies and how it is even more harmful with the ongoing pandemic. She also says that coronavirus and pollution along with other comorbidities is a fatal combination. Niera finishes by listing some ways that we can protect ourselves from the harmful effects of both pollution and the pandemic, like staying socially distanced and using masks.

This source has more of an explanation of why exactly pollution and COVID-19 make such a harmful combination. This could be a heavily informational podcast episode and because of that there is a lot of scientific terminology that could be used, but Niera presents this information in a way that is easily understood by the reader. This makes this sort of information available to the average reader and helps everyone learn more about this situation.

Magazzino, Cosimo, et al. “The Relationship between Air Pollution and COVID-19-Related Deaths: An Application to Three French Cities.” Applied Energy, Elsevier Ltd., 1 Dec. 2020, Accessed March 1. 2021.

This study set out to determine whether or not high levels of pollution were connected to COVID-19 deaths. The scientists, Cosimo Magazzino, Marco Mele, and Nicolas Schneider looked at three French cities, Paris, Lyon, and Marseilles, with different concentrations of air pollution. They found that there is a certain threshold pollution level for each city that is connected to COVID-19. Pairs ended up having the highest concentrations in pollution and Lyon and Marseilles had a lower amount. Since a higher level of pollution was connected to a higher mortality rate, Paris, out of the three, had the highest hospitalization numbers.

The conductors of this study found that higher levels of pollution have a higher mortality rate. This is dangerous for big cities with lots of air pollution like Paris. This is another example of how pollution is a harmful component of COVID-19. There are lots of measurements in the abstract of this study, which is hard for the average reader to decipher. This study is helpful for those in this scientific field that can look at the results and know exactly what they mean, but for the average reader, the information is on the side of too scientific.

Venter, Zander S., et al. “COVID-19 Lockdowns Cause Global Air Pollution Declines.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 11 Aug. 2020, Accessed February 28. 2021.

In the abstract of the study from Colorado State University, the scientists look at the effects of air pollutants from COVID-19 lockdowns. They looked at ground-level air pollutants concentrations from more than 10,000 air quality stations. They found that the pollutants in 34 countries decreased substantially from March of 2020 up until May 15, 2020. This shows that as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, air pollution dropped by a large margin in about two months.

These findings are stated in the results and discussion section of the scientific article.

This is another example of the good that lockdowns did on the impact of COVID-19. Not only did lockdowns help keep people from contracting the virus, but they also decreased levels of pollution which in turn, decreased the mortality rates. This scientific paper is easier to read and learn from than other scientific articles. The authors put the information into plainer terms for the average reader to understand. The positive relationship between lockdowns and COVID-19 is important for people to learn about because to most people that was the hardest part of the pandemic.


For this topic, there are two distinct sides, how pollution affects COVID-19 and how COVID-19 affects pollution. The sources from Bernstein, Niera, and Magazzino all talk about how pollution makes the symptoms of COVID-19 worse, which creates a higher mortality rate. These sources mention the bodily impacts of how pollution damages the lungs which hurt the body’s ability to fight this respiratory virus. Since pollution is such a harmful component to the pandemic it is a great thing that lockdowns began. The sources from Gardiner and Venter talk about the more positive side of this cycle, how lockdowns decreased pollution. Since many people all over the world were no longer partaking in a daily commute, emissions from cars, busses, and trains all decreased. This decrease in pollution helped to clean the air, thus removing a harmful factor to COVID-19.

My question for this topic is “How are Air Pollution and the COVID-19 Pandemic Connected.” Through the duration of this project, I learned that they are even more connected than I had originally thought. The two components are connected in the way that when pollution levels are high, COVID-19 death rates are high and when pollution levels are low the mortality rate is low as well. There are signs of these effects all over the world and many highly polluted cities are thankful for the clearing of the air. There are gaps in my research that don’t include what happened after large amounts of the population started to go back to work and businesses began to open pack up. This is something that would be interesting to find out. The sources from my annotation help to prove the point that COVID-19 and pollution are connected by backing up theories with facts and figures from real-life experiences and scientific studies.