FunNature & AnimalChina's pollution has been reduced because of the coronavirus

China's pollution has been reduced because of the coronavirus

Confirmed: The satellites of the North American (NASA) and European (ESA) space agencies have detected a notable decrease in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in China’s airspace in recent weeks. This is an unexpected benefit from lockdown measures to minimize coronavirus infections: a dramatic improvement in the nation’s air quality.

According to NASA, it is “at least in part” related to the economic slowdown that followed the coronavirus outbreak.

The data was collected by ESA’s Sentinel-5 satellite. Ozone measurements from NASA’s Aura spacecraft showed similar results.

COVID-19 effect

COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has infected more than 90,000 people and claimed the lives of more than 3,000. Most of the victims are in China’s Hubei province. , where the virus originated . Following the outbreak, a series of movement restrictions were put in place in China and, from the disruption of transport in Wuhan in late January to the closure of local businesses, quarantine measures have been under way across the country to reduce the spread of the virus. The result? Less air pollution.

Using pollution monitoring satellites, NASA measured the concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air, a gas that ends up in the air from burning fuel, mainly from cars, trucks, buses and power plants. From January 1 to 20 (before the quarantine), and from February 10 to 25 (during the quarantine), scientists saw a “significant decrease” in pollution over Wuhan and the rest of China.

Maps provided by NASA show the density of NO2 concentrations in blue, yellow and orange in China during those time periods. The reduction began in Wuhan and then spread to the rest of the country, according to NASA . In eastern and central China the levels were 10-30% lower than normally observed in this time period.

“This is the first time I’ve seen such a dramatic drop over such a wide area for a specific event,” Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a NASA statement. .

“There’s always a general slowdown at this time of year,” said Barry Lefer, an air quality scientist at NASA. “Our long-term OMI (NASA Ozone Monitoring Instrument) data allows us to see if and why these amounts are abnormal.”

“This year, the rate of reduction is more significant than in previous years and has lasted longer ,” Liu said. “I’m not surprised, because many cities across the country have taken steps to minimize the spread of the virus.”

Yes indeed; Just because industries have reduced their carbon dioxide production and nitrogen dioxide levels are lower does not mean that the air is cleaner in cities. As of mid-February, Beijing’s air pollution levels were still 10 times higher than recommended by the World Health Organization.


Has happened in the past

Importantly, this is not the first time that China’s air pollution levels have declined. Already in 2008, during the celebration of the Olympic Games, there was a great fall of nitrogen dioxide on the city, but the levels of pollution increased again after the end of the Games.

The WHO has yet to declare the coronavirus a pandemic, but CEO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it has all the potential to become one.

Referencia: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

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