Air Pollution Exposure and COVID-19: A Look at Mortality in Mexico City Using Individual-Level Data

Science of the Total Environment,

12 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2020 Last revised: 3 May 2021

Date Written: July 30, 2020


We use individual-level data to estimate the effects of long- and short-term exposure to air pollution (PM2.5) on the probability of dying from COVID-19. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to look at this relationship using individual-level data. We find that for Mexico City there is evidence of a positive relationship between pollution and mortality that significantly grows with age and that appears to be mostly driven by long- rather than short-term exposure. By using a rich set of individual- and municipal-level controls we are able to isolate the effect of exposure to pollution from other crucial factors, thus alleviating endogeneity concerns related to selection. Our results provide yet another reason for the need to implement environmental strategies that will reduce the exposure to air pollution: it is a key element to improve the general population’s health. In addition, and considering that at this moment we do not know when the pandemic will stop or if SARS-CoV-2 will become a recurrent threat, the relationship that we uncovered suggests that financial resources should be allocated to improve medical services in those areas where PM2.5 concentrations tend to be high.

Note: Funding: There are no financial conflicts of interest to disclose.

Conflict of Interest: There are no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Keywords: Air pollution, COVID-19, Health, Mexico, Mortality, PM2.5, SARS-CoV-2

JEL Classification: I15, Q53, Q56

Suggested Citation

Lopez-Feldman, Alejandro and Heres, David and Marquez-Padilla, Fernanda, Air Pollution Exposure and COVID-19: A Look at Mortality in Mexico City Using Individual-Level Data (July 30, 2020). Science of the Total Environment,, Available at SSRN: or

Alejandro Lopez-Feldman (Contact Author)

Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas ( email )

Carretera Mexico-Toluca 3655
Lomas de Santa Fe
Mexico City, 01210

David Heres

Banco de Mexico ( email )

Ave Cinco e Mayo 1
Col. Centro
Mexico City, Mexico DF 06059

Fernanda Marquez-Padilla

CIDE ( email )

Carretera Mexico Toluca 3655
01210 Mexico, D.F.

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