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.