COVID-19 Changes Air Quality but It’s not All that Good

In two studies, recently published in the journal Geographical Research, researchers analyzed air quality over many countries in the world and found that levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter pollution over China, Western Europe, and the US has significantly decreased, but at the same time, levels of surface ozone in China have increased.COVID-19 Changes Air Quality

For their studies, scientists used satellite measurements of air quality over countries that became major coronavirus epicenters: China, South Korea, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the US. They found that levels of pollution decreased by 40% over industrial areas of China, 20% over Belgium and Germany, and 19 to 40% in various areas of the United States.

At the same time, scientists report that with a 60% reduction in nitrogen dioxide and a 35% reduction in particulate matter, secondary pollutant surface ozone, which can cause severe health issues, such as pulmonary and cardiac disease, increased by 150–200%.

Lead researcher of one of the studies Guy Brasseur, an atmospheric scientist of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, says: “It means that by just reducing the [nitrogen dioxide] and the particles, you won’t solve the ozone problem.”

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