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Particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are among the outdoor air pollutants that are major factors in diseases, causing especially adverse respiratory effects in humans. On the other hand, the role of respiratory viruses in the pathogenesis of severe respiratory infections is an issue of great importance. The present literature review was aimed at assessing the potential effects of air pollutants on the transmission and severity of respiratory viral infections. We have reviewed the scientific literature regarding the association of outdoor air pollution and respiratory viruses on respiratory diseases. Evidence supports a clear association between air concentrations of some pollutants and human respiratory viruses interacting to adversely affect the respiratory system. Given the undoubted importance and topicality of the subject, we have paid special attention to the association between air pollutants and the transmission and severity of the effects caused by the coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2, which causes the COVID-19. Although to date, and by obvious reasons, the number of studies on this issue are still scarce, most results indicate that chronic exposure to air pollutants delays/complicates recovery of patients of COVID-19 and leads to more severe and lethal forms of this disease. This deserves immediate and in-depth experimental investigations.

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