Since the COVID pandemic started, there has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of air and road travel. This decrease in traffic has led to a decrease in air pollution levels.
A recent study found that in the early months of the pandemic, nitrogen dioxide levels in European cities decreased by an average of 40%. This is a significant decrease, and it is likely due to the decrease in traffic.
The study also found that the reduction in air pollution led to a decrease in the number of respiratory problems and hospital visits. This is great news, as it shows that even small changes in air pollution can have a big impact on public health.
With people now staying home more, we are seeing less traffic on the roads and fewer planes in the sky. This decrease in travel has led to a decrease in air pollution, which is good news for our health.
When air and road travel began shutting down in response to the COVID pandemic, one unexpected benefit was a drop in air pollution levels.
Nitrogen dioxide emissions, a pollutant closely associated with road traffic, fell sharply across Europe and North America as stay-at-home orders went into effect. In London, for example, emissions were down by around 60% in the early weeks of the pandemic.
With fewer cars on the roads and planes in the sky, there was less pollution to be released into the atmosphere. And while some industrial activity continued, many factories were forced to shut down or scale back production, further reducing emissions.
The drop in air pollution levels has had a correspondingly positive impact on air quality. In cities like London and New York, which typically experience high levels of air pollution, there has been a noticeable improvement in air quality since the pandemic began.
The respite from pollution is only temporary, of course. Once travel restrictions are lifted and life returns to something resembling normal, emissions will increase once again. But the silver lining is that the pandemic has shown us just how quickly air pollution levels can improve when we make a concerted effort to reduce emissions.