Effect of Coronavirus on Air Pollution

Effect of Coronavirus on Air Pollution

The coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in air quality all around the world. Lockdowns have resulted in factories and roads shutting, thus reducing emissions of unwanted gas in the air, water pollution and noise pollution.

These 11 visualizations, using data from NASA’s Global Modelling and Data Assimilation team, show the dramatic impact lockdown measures have had on pollution levels.

To contain the coronavirus pandemic, billions of people have been told to stay at home. In China, authorities placed almost half a billion people under lockdown, the equivalent of nearly 7% of the world’s population. Many other countries have since taken similar measures, initially in hard-hit Italy and Spain, and more recently in the United States and India.

Ground station metrics from Wuhan, where the pandemic originated, show how certain pollutants including nitrogen dioxide were at record lows during the first few months of the year.

Some of the major sources of nitrogen dioxide are vehicle exhausts, power plants and wastewater treatment plants.

Scientists say nitrogen dioxide pollution has been steadily increasing over the last few years. However, the lockdown may have contributed to this year’s drop.

Beyond improvements in outdoor air quality, scientists are also curious how lockdowns have affected indoor air quality, with millions of people staying at home for far longer than usual.

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