New Delhi: Two good things have come out of the ‘stay at home’ principle imposed to contain the deadly coronavirus – first, people are spending more time with their near ones, and second, the air quality in countries under quarantines is improving. Also Read - British PM Boris Johnson Shifted to Intensive Care Unit as His Coronavirus Symptoms 'Worsened'
Traffic as well as air pollution has plummeted dramatically in countries like Italy, China and the United States as the streets were left deserted and factories shuttered down to curb the COVID-19 outbreak. Also Read - 'If PM Modi Doesn't Allow...': Trump Warns India of 'Retaliation' if US Order of Hydroxychloroquine Not Released
Images shared by the US space agency NASA, reported by news agency Agence France-Presse, the concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air produced by vehicles and industries dropped significantly in Wuhan city, China, the epicentre of the contagion. Also Read - CRPF Moves Ailing Man to Chandigarh After Airlifting Him From Rajouri
Similarly, a sharp reduction in NO2 emissions was observed in Italy, the European country that recently surpassed China with the highest number of deaths due to coronavirus. Other countries, including India, have also shown similar improvements.
In Maharashtra, where the number of positive cases are the highest in the country, the air quality has seen an upgrade with pollutant levels going down. According to a report by System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), there was at least a 45 per cent drop in the concentration of NO2 in March 2020 in cities like Mumbai and Pune, compared to this time in the last two years.
“If NOx levels are reduced significantly as compared to earlier years, it may provide us a qualitative/broader indication in reduction in emissions in major sources,” the SAFAR stated. The research also recorded a fall in PM 2.5 levels, that calculates the air quality index.
But is this improvement for the long run or will it remain only for a few months as people quarantine themselves, that is the question experts are yet to figure out.