What is the impact of lockdown on air pollution?
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many places of the world are shut which has led to the unprecedented reductions in deadly air pollution around the globe. Several studies have suggested that air pollution around the globe have been reduced by up to 60% compared to the last year, amidst the lockdown.
IQAir, a company on global air quality information and tech, carried out research on air pollution. The researchers listed 10 cities having high numbers of coronavirus cases and strict lockdown measures. Seven out of these 10 cities showed shocking improvements in air quality. These include highly populated cities of India-- New Delhi and Mumbai; Wuhan in China and Seoul in South Korea.
Researchers recorded the air quality of these 10 cities and after three-weeks timeframe noticed that harmful microscopic particulate matter, PM 2.5, has significantly reduced.
The PM 2.5 pollutant is smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter and is very dangerous for human beings. The pollutant goes to our respiratory system from where it passes into other organs and bloodstream which may cause breathing problems.
After a countrywide lockdown in India-- public places are shut, public transport services are suspended to contain the spread of the virus. According to WHO, India is one of the world's most populated countries as the residents are exposed to PM 2.5 by more than 500%. However, the good side of the story is that the national capital Delhi, which is regarded as one of the world's most populated cities recorded PM 2.5 drop by 60%.
However, as per researchers at IQAir, shutting down the factories and suspending public and private transport is not a sustainable way to improve air quality. People around the globe must shift towards sustainable sources of energy for power generation, limit their purchases to primarily essential goods, opt for cleaner modes of transportation such as walking and cycling and encourage a shared economy of goods.