Particulate matter and SARS-CoV-2: A possible model of COVID-19 transmission

Nguyen Thanh Tung, Po Ching Cheng, Kai Hsien Chi, Ta Chi Hsiao, Timothy Jones, Kelly BéruBé, Kin Fai Ho, Hsiao Chi Chuang

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an acute respiratory disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has rapidly developed into a pandemic throughout the world. This disease is a highly infectious novel coronavirus and can affect people of all ages. Previous reports observed that particulate matter (PM) provided a platform for intermixing with viruses (i.e., influenza). However, the role of PM in SARS-CoV-2 transmission remains unclear. In this paper, we propose that PM plays a direct role as a “carrier” of SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 is reported to have a high affinity for the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. Indirectly, exposure to PM increases ACE2 expression in the lungs which facilitates SARS-CoV-2 viral adhesion. Thus, the high risk of SARS-CoV-2 in heavily polluted regions can be explained by upregulation of ACE2 caused by PM. PM could be both a direct and indirect transmission model for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141532
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Air pollution
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2
  • Covid-19
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Particulate matter and SARS-CoV-2: A possible model of COVID-19 transmission'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this