Air pollution plummets by up to 50% as virus curbs traffic, new data reveals
(EurActiv, 25 Mar 2020) Pollution levels have dropped by more than 50% in parts of Europe, according to new figures published by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) on Wednesday (25 March), as coronavirus lockdown measures empty city streets of traffic.
The EEA data notes a large decrease in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, which is mostly emitted by cars, vans and trucks. Traffic has decreased significantly across Europe due to quarantine measures targeted at containing the coronavirus outbreak.
Air quality in Italian cities in particular is cleaner, because of the strict lockdown regime implemented by the government. In Milan, the epicentre of the worst effects of the virus, NO2 levels have dropped nearly 25% over the past month.
In the Lombardy city of Bergamo, pollution has decreased 35% and in Italy’s capital, Rome, concentrations are up to 35% lower compared to the same four week period in 2019.
Satellite images provided last week by the EU’s earth-observation system, Copernicus, showed a marked drop in NO2 but those findings are limited by factors like cloud cover and the frequency of a satellite’s orbit.