The Covid-19 pandemic has deeply impacted our relationship with the environment and the achievement of the sustainable development goals, sometimes in opposite ways. The SARS CoV2 origin has demonstrated the urgent need of adopting the “one health” approach in every future action involving health and environment, and its spread has highlighted the importance of research about the environmental determinants of its transmission. The increasing knowledge about the virus presence in different environmental matrices and conditions is showing the large diffusion of its RNA, even if its real viability is still undemonstrated. Moreover, some epidemiological findings suggest that environmental conditions can be associated with the virus spreading and related mortality.
The Covid-19 prevention is still entrusted to measures linked to the environment: use of masks, social distancing, hygiene and disinfection. On the other hand, some of these measures can increase the environmental pollution, as it occurs for wastes (gloves and masks) and generalized spreading of disinfectants: this can produce an apparent conflict of interest between the infective and the chemical risks. Therefore, the Covid-19 pandemic should change our way to consider the environmental risk assessment, focusing not only on chemicals but also on biological agents, both analyzed and compared with quantitative methods.
The efforts for the recovery from the socio-economic impact of the pandemic should also be focused on the environmental preservation and protection.
In conclusion, the pandemic give us the opportunity to rethink the health and environment binomial in a wider and more comprehensive perspective.