A new analysis shows that COVID – 19 lockdown that was imposed as a measure to contain the virus has resulted in unprecedented reductions in deadly air pollution around the world. The report was released on Earth Day to coincide with its 50th anniversary.
Almost every city under lockdown, when compared with the same period a year earlier, reveals a drastic drop in air pollution. The analysis found that the most substantial drop in PM2.5 has been witnessed by the major cities with historically higher levels of deadly air pollutants.
Researchers from IQAir studied 10 major cities around the world. These cities have relatively high numbers of coronavirus cases and COVID-19 lockdown measures. It compared measurements of the world’s deadliest air pollutants before and during the COVID-19 outbreak. IQAir is a global air quality information and tech company.
The cities observed under the study are – New York, London, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Rome, Seoul, Milan, Wuhan, New Delhi, and Mumbai. Seven out of the 10 cities studied observes significant improvements in air quality. It includes Mumbai, Seoul, New Delhi, and Wuhan.
In the world’s most polluted city lists, New Delhi regularly tops. It recorded a 60% fall of PM2.5 from 2019 levels. Seoul registered a 54% drop. The fall in Wuhan came in at 44%. It experienced the cleanest air quality on record through February and March as per the study. Los Angeles experienced its longest-ever stretch of clean air. It met the United Nation’s recommended air quality guidelines.
The data was based on a three-week time frame. It was to reflect either the most stringent lockdown measures in each city or to coincide with the peak number of daily reported COVID-19 infections.
Air pollution is a global public health crisis. According to the World Health Organization, it kills an estimated 7 million people worldwide every year.
The report’s authors say that when economies restart after coronavirus, they expect air pollution to rise again. IQAir’s marketing specialist Kelsey Duska states that these extraordinary circumstances give us the finest observation. It reveals how changes in our society’s activities can have a momentous impact on the air we breathe and on our environment.