Air pollution drops to record low in India following lockdown

Air pollution in parts of India has dropped to record lows following the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Of the 30 most polluted cities in the world, 22 of them are in India. However, following a country-wide lockdown in a bid to slow down the spread of Covid-19, pollution levels have begun to significantly decrease. 

On March 22, millions of residents went into lockdown, and on the same day, parts of India recorded the lowest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution ever recorded in the Spring season.

As shown on the Real-Time Air Quality Index, in Delhi, particulate matter (PM2.5) dropped from 165µg/m3 on March 21, a level which is considered unhealthy to everyone, to 64µg/m3 on March 29, a level which is considered moderate or acceptable.  

Similarly in Jaipur, on March 21 PM2.5 levels averaged 139µg/m3, by March 29 levels had decreased to 48µg/m3. This is classified as ‘good’, meaning that air quality is satisfactory and poses little or no risk. This is the first time in 2020 that PM2.5 has been recorded as this low. 

The same pattern has been seen in many others countries following lockdown, for example, earlier this month Italy recorded a drop in air pollution, as did the UK as air pollution levels halved. 

However, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air has said that this should not be seen as a silver lining, it should be seen as how normalised the massive death toll from air pollution has become. 

They state that once the pandemic is over, there are far more effective ways for the government to address air pollution than shutting down parts of the economy, such as enforcing emission standards for large polluters. 

In related news, research has found that exposure to air pollution increases the risk of dying from Covid-19. 

The warning has come from the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), who say that doctors are starting to link higher death rates for Covid-19 to illnesses caused by air pollution such as high blood pressure, diabetes and certain respiratory illnesses.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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