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Environmental Impact and Covid-19

Catherine Glaznieks
26 May 2020

Air Pollution

Some academics believe the huge decreases in air pollution recorded during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic can be used to show what can be achieved to improve the levels of air quality.  

With vastly reduced air and road traffic, and large numbers of the population working from home, countries around the world are experiencing huge improvements in air quality.

During March 2020 emissions of nitrogen oxide in the UK fell by as much as 60%. Nitrogen oxide can exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma, and can affect long term heart and lung conditions.  With such huge decreases in emissions, the lockdown has demonstrated what can be achieved in improvements to air quality.  However, the drastic measures the pandemic has forced on populations around the world cannot be sustained, so can any lessons be learnt to help improve air quality in the future?

Well, we are in effect partaking in a huge worldwide experiment on air pollution with the full effects and results as yet unknown.  Populations are being forced to change their behaviours and ways of working, technology is playing a vital role in communications and flexible working, traditional forms of transport are being questioned and alternatives being sought, so the question is can these behavioural changes be harnessed to provide sustainable changes in air pollution? We can only wait and see.

Read more here: Coronavirus: lockdown’s effect on air pollution provides rare glimpse of low-carbon future.