Covid-19 lockdown effect: Air pollution drops drastically

Covid-19 lockdown effect: Air pollution drops drastically

A majority of countries have indulged in lockdowns to fight off the deadly Covid-19. While the same might have handed out an economic crisis, it’s not all doom and gloom. A drastic improvement in pollution levels is recorded at major global cities, including Indian capital New Delhi, according to a research study, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Scientists from IQAir, a Swiss-based global air quality and tech company, studied air quality in 10 global cities which were hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic and implemented strict lockdown measures. The analysis compared levels of fine particle matter ‘PM 2.5’, an air pollutant harmful to people’s health as the particles can travel deep into respiratory tract and cause serious health issues.

The study found air quality improved drastically in seven out of the 10 identified cities, thanks to the drastic restriction of people’s movement and economic activity imposed during lockdowns.

“Cities with historically higher levels of ‘PM2.5’ pollution witnesses the most substantial drops, including Delhi (-60 %), Seoul (-54 %), Wuhan (-44 %) and Mumbai (-34 %),” the report said.

Both Indian cities Delhi and Mumbai experienced the best March air quality on record while April 2020 is also on track to register best quality air so far. Delhi’s ‘unhealthy; and worse rated hours plummeted from 68 % in 2019 to 17 % during the lockdown period. The lockdown in India, initiated framed lockdown for 21 days from March 25, was extended for an additional two weeks on April 11.

Similarly, China’s Wuhan experienced its cleanest February and March air quality on record during the city’s 10-week lockdown period. Among others, Los Angeles, US, experienced its longest stretch of clean air on record meeting the WHO air quality guidelines, spanning 18 days from March 7 to 28, the study said.

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