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Oklahoma State University

Research shows engine exhaust particles inactivates SARS-CoV-2

Monday, September 26, 2022

Dr. José de la Fuente

Good and bad live together

Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary studies allow scientists to address scientific challenges with innovative approaches that may provide insights otherwise difficult to find.

A recent multidisciplinary research study revealed that atmospheric particulate matter emitted by engine exhaust inactivates SARS-CoV-2, but also has a negative impact on human health with implications for COVID-19 and other diseases.

Dr. José de la Fuente, professor at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Ciudad Real, Spain, and adjunct faculty at the Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine led a team of multidisciplinary researchers that was comprised of veterinarians, molecular biologists, physicists, engineers and biochemists.

The collaboration included the  Research Group of Health and Biotechnology (SaBio) of the Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC – CSIC, UCLM, JCCM),  the School of Industrial and Aerospace Engineering of the UCLM, the Veterinary Health Surveillance Center (VISAVET) of the Complutense University of Madrid, the Research Institute on Combustion and Atmospheric Pollution (UCLM) and the CMT-Thermal Engines of the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

How long does SARS-CoV-2 survive on the surface of pollution particles of different origin?

Air pollution and associated particles affect environmental and human health. The intense use of vehicles and the high population density in urban areas are the main causes of this impact on public health. Epidemiological studies have provided evidence on the effect of air pollution on the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the prevalence and symptomatology of theCOVID-19 disease  

The aim was to evaluate the relationship between the use of fuels, atmospheric pollution, and the risk of transmission of the virus. The persistence and viability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was characterized on five types of particles from engine exhaust and four samples of PM10 air pollutant particles.

The Results

The results showed that SARS-CoV-2 remains on the surface of PM10 particles of air pollutants. Consequently, elevated atmospheric levels of PM10 in cities may increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. However, engine exhaust particles inactivate the virus but produces oxidative stress and affects immunity.   

Therefore, although the particulate matter in the fuel inactivates SARS-CoV-2 (the good side), the conclusion of the study is that both atmospheric and engine exhaust particulate matter have a negative impact on human health with implications for COVID-19 and other diseases (the bad side).


de la Fuente, J., Armas, O., Barroso-Arévalo, S., Gortázar, C., García-Seco, T., Buendía-Andrés, A., Villanueva, F., Soriano, J.A., Mazuecos, L., Vaz Rodigues, R., García-Contreras, R., García, A., Monsalve-Serrano, J., Domínguez, L., Sánchez-Vizcaíno, J.M. 2022. Good and bad get together: Inactivation of SARS-CoV-2 in fuel particulate matter pollution. Science of the Total Environment 844: 157241. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157241