An international team of researchers have published a comprehensive review looking at the impact that international lockdowns have had on air pollution across the world.
The analysis covers the measurement data from around 200 studies, all taken from the first seven months following the onset of the pandemic.
A key finding of the analysis is that lockdowns led to a dramatic reduction in global pollution.
However, this only applies to pollutants that primarily have an anthropogenic origin, meaning pollutants that are directly emitted by humans, these include nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, ozone, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, black carbon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon monoxide.
In comparison, the researchers found that throughout the pandemic, ozone levels actually increased. This was a result of atmospheric chemical processes caused by reduced nitrogen oxide levels.
The review also highlights that there are still gaps in the data collection, with much more research needed. The researchers state that the period of analysis should be extended to cover the entire year of 2020.
The researchers have also created a database that contains all data from the study on pollution levels, including data on pollution levels in individual countries. Researchers can also find a list of publications to date and thus obtain a quick overview of previous studies. The database can be accessed here.
The website invites scientists to present data from their new studies and to thus become part of the reference system. The researchers have said that this data could form the basis for better assessments of the impacts on atmospheric chemistry in future scenarios. This includes a considerable, long-term reduction in pollution levels for a comprehensive transition to electromobility.
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