Expert Pitch
University of California San Diego Health

Abated Breath: From COVID-19 to Wildfire Smoke and Air Pollution, Multiple Factors Threaten Lung Health This Summer

As we continue to grapple with the global pandemic, rising summer temperatures and wildfire season pose new challenges to our lung health. A team of pulmonologists and researchers at UC San Diego Health offer a wide variety of expertise and advice for the upcoming months. 

Atul Malhotra, MD
Pulmonary and critical care physician and sleep specialist

Topics of Discussion

  • How COVID-19 impacts the lungs and the latest in treatment approaches
    • Importance of safety precautions – wearing masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene
  • The effect of wildfire smoke on lungs, especially in persons with underlying health conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease   

“To some extent, the masks worn to prevent the spread of COVID-19 can also protect the lungs from dangerous particles in wildfire smoke.” 

Praveen Akuthota, MD
Pulmonary and critical care physician and asthma specialist

Topics of Discussion

  • How COVID-19 affects those with asthma
  • How diminished air quality, such as wildfire smoke and allergens, can affect persons with asthma 

Angela Wang, MD
Pulmonologist

Topics of Discussion

  • Long-term effects of COVID-19
  • COVID-19 symptoms
  • COVID-19 risks of transmission (indoors vs. outdoors, types of exposures, number of individuals)
  • General lung health
    • Environmental exposures to smoke and indoor and outdoor air pollution negatively affect the size and health of children’s lungs and can result in susceptibility to lung disease in adulthood
    • Average human being takes about 1 million breaths a year 
    • We stop growing new lung tissue by our teens
    • Exercise promotes lung development and health  

“While people can and do recover from COVID-19, many experience persistent symptoms, such as shortness of breath, cough and fatigue. This will make it difficult for them to tolerate additional insults from wildfire smoke, excessive heat or other environmental exposures.” 

Laura Crotty Alexander, MD
Associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep at UC San Diego School of Medicine and staff physician at Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System

Topics of Discussion

  • How smoking of conventional tobacco and exposure to secondary smoke are known to cause many lung diseases and increase the risk of developing lung infections
  • How vaping and use of electronic cigarettes or electronic devices cause changes in the lungs and throughout the body, suggesting users will be at higher risk for developing severe forms of viral pneumonias, including influenza and COVID-19
  • How inhaling anything other than clean air will increase your risk of lung disease, including pneumonia. This includes inhalation of tobacco smoke, e-cigarette aerosols, dabbing (THC), wildfire smoke and air pollution. 

“Our strong recommendation is don’t smoke. Don’t vape. Don't expose members of your family or community to second-hand smoke or e-cigarette vapor. Also, be kind and thoughtful and wear a mask so you aren't exposing others to a potential infection you might have.” 

UC San Diego Health is nationally recognized for comprehensive care dedicated to treating complex lung diseases by highly specialized experts. Learn more at health.ucsd.edu/pulmonology 




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Story Tips: Pandemic impact, root studies, neutrons confirm, lab on a crystal and modeling fusion
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VIDEO
Released: 4-Aug-2020 11:20 AM EDT
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The rate of COVID-19 transmission in New South Wales (NSW) educational settings was extremely limited during the first wave of COVID-19, research findings published today in The Lancet Journal of Child and Adolescent Health have shown.

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31-Jul-2020 3:15 PM EDT
Droplet Spread from Humans Doesn’t Always Follow Airflow
American Institute of Physics (AIP)

If aerosol transmission of COVID-19 is confirmed to be significant, as suspected, we will need to reconsider guidelines on social distancing, ventilation systems and shared spaces. Researchers in the U.K. believe a better understanding of different droplet behaviors and their different dispersion mechanisms is also needed. In Physics of Fluids, the group presents a model that demarcates differently sized droplets. This has implications for understanding the spread of airborne diseases, because the dispersion tests revealed the absence of intermediate-sized droplets.

Released: 4-Aug-2020 10:30 AM EDT
COVID-19 study confirms low transmission in educational settings
University of Sydney

The rate of COVID-19 transmission in New South Wales (NSW) educational settings was extremely limited during the first wave of COVID-19, research findings published today in The Lancet Journal of Child and Adolescent Health have shown.

Newswise: Researchers develop new mouse model for SARS-CoV-2
Released: 4-Aug-2020 10:00 AM EDT
Researchers develop new mouse model for SARS-CoV-2
The Rockefeller University Press

Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine have developed a new mouse model to study SARS-CoV-2 infection and disease and to accelerate testing of novel treatments and vaccines against the novel coronavirus. The study, published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM), also suggests that, rather than protecting the lungs, key antiviral signaling proteins may actually cause much of the tissue damage associated with COVID-19.

Newswise: Exposure to common cold coronaviruses can teach the immune system to recognize SARS-CoV-2
Released: 4-Aug-2020 10:00 AM EDT
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La Jolla Institute for Immunology

A new study led by scientists at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) shows that memory helper T cells that recognize common cold coronaviruses also recognize matching sites on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Newswise:Video Embedded protocol-needed-to-monitor-covid-19-disease-course
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Released: 3-Aug-2020 9:05 PM EDT
Protocol needed to monitor COVID-19 disease course
University of Washington School of Medicine and UW Medicine

Patients with underlying conditions such as asthma or other lung problems should be checked on regularly by pulmonologists or primary-care doctors for at least six months. Some will need to be monitored for one to three years, according to a new opinion piece posted online today in The Lancet-Respiratory Medicine.


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