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More Silver Linings from COVID-19: Fresh Air Up, Pollution Down

Source: ChuckBennett/DailyBreeze/SCN

From Hubei to L.A, how the Coronavirus restrictions are allowing our planet catch its breath as air pollution plummets arcross the globe.

Coronavirus restrictions unintended upshot is a breath of fresh air

As the COVID-19 virus sweeps across the world, communities, countries and industries are being hit hard during this unprecedented pandemic. At BrightVibes we fully appreciate the enormous gravity of the unfolding situation, and in no way wish to underplay the very real tragedy countless families are experiencing right now, however, the international response to the situation has resulted in some unintended environmental benefits that we feel are important to highlight. Last week we published an article “A Silver Lining Amid the Pandemic: Fresh Air and Blue Skies Break Out Around the Planet!“. Now, we are pleased to bring you more promising reports of clean air and lowered pollution from the international community.

Nasa scientists said the reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels, the noxious gas emitted from motor vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities, was first evident near Wuhan city, the source of the outbreak, but then spread across the country. Images from Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) pollution monitoring satellites were used to compare the first two months of 2019 with the same period this year.
Nasa satellite images show a dramatic decline in pollution levels over China, which the US space agency believes is “partly related” to an economic slowdown due to the coronavirus. Nasa scientists said the reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels, the noxious gas emitted from motor vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities, was first evident near Wuhan city, the source of the outbreak, but then spread across the country. Images from Nasa and the European Space Agency (ESA) pollution monitoring satellites were used to compare the first two months of 2019 with the same period this year. Source: NASA/theguardian

Air pollution down as nations take hard measures to combat coronavirus

The air pollution levels in China have decreased significantly following the shutting down of factories and vehicle operations, particularly air travel. NASA scientists estimate that emissions over the past month I’ve been about 25% lower than normal, which is a significant reduction considering that China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Meanwhile in Italy, the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) data for recent weeks show how concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a pollutant mainly emitted by road transport, have decreased significantly in many Italian cities:

  • In Milan, average concentrations of NO2 for the past four weeks have been at least 24% lower than four weeks earlier this year. The average concentration during the week of 16-22 March was 21% lower than for the same week in 2019.
  • In Bergamo, there has been a constant decline in NO2 pollution over the past four weeks. The average concentration during the week of 16-22 March was 47% lower than for the same week in 2019.
  • In Rome, average NO2 concentrations for the past four weeks were 26-35% lower than for the same weeks in 2019.

Similar trends can be seen in other European cities where lockdown measures have been implemented during the week of 16-22 March.

  • In Barcelona, average NO2 levels went down by 40% from one week to the next. Compared with the same week in 2019, the reduction was 55%.
  • In Madrid, average NO2 levels went down by 56% from one week to the next. Compared with the same week in 2019, the reduction was 41%.
  • In the Portuguese capital Lisbon, average NO2 levels went down by 40% from one week to the next. Compared with the same week in 2019, the reduction was 5%.

Sources: Ecollegey/EEA

A couple takes a stroll at Kenneth Hahn Park in the Baldwin Hills Mountains of Los Angeles, with clean skies between them and downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
Although brutal on the economy, business closures only have helped the wet weather improve LA’s air. A couple takes a stroll at Kenneth Hahn Park in the Baldwin Hills Mountains of Los Angeles, with clean skies between them and downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Source: Dean Musgrove/LosAngeles DailyNews/SCNG

LA experiences clean air for 3 straight weeks

For nearly three straight weeks, air quality maps tracking the region’s scores on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index have been nothing but green—the colour that denotes the cleanest air.

According to the California Air Resources Board, the last time the ozone level in the Los Angeles area reached unhealthy levels was in February. Over the summer, the region saw unhealthy ozone levels every day for more than two straight months.

It’s a small silver lining to a pandemic that’s shut down businesses, closed schools, and put strain on LA’s healthcare system, but this could even aid those more at risk from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The European Public Health Alliance warned last week that residents of cities with poor air quality are “more at risk” from the disease, which can cause severe respiratory issues.

Source: LA.Curbed

The drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution has convinced researchers that this could be a wakeup call to revealing that it is in fact possible to reduce our emissions and if companies make regulations and sustainable practices, it will promote a greener economy.
Satellite images from the European Space Agency showing decreased NO2 levels over Italy. The drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution has convinced researchers that this could be a wakeup call to revealing that it is in fact possible to reduce our emissions and if companies make regulations and sustainable practices, it will promote a greener economy. Source: ESA/ecollegey.net

Coronavirus inadvertently revealed that it is in fact possible to reduce our emissions

The drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution has convinced researchers that this could be a wakeup call to revealing that it is in fact possible to reduce our emissions, and if companies make regulations and sustainable practices, it will promote a greener economy. The demonstrated ability to improve environmental conditions so rapidly can serve as cause for future hope in our ability to effectively mitigate climate change as an international community.

How Coronavirus Quarantines Lead To A Drop In Air Pollution As coronavirus quickly spreads around the world, the virus is forcing people to stay put. People aren’t driving or flying, leading to a massive reduction in air pollution, most notably in China, but also in Italy, the U.S. and other hard-hit areas that have implemented directives to stay home. Source: YouTube/CNBC
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Coronavirus disease COVID-19 advice for the public from World Health Organization

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following: