Air pollution from transport, factories clear out in European countries during coronavirus lockdown
Air pollution has decreased in urban areas across Europe during lockdowns to combat the coronavirus, new satellite images showed on Monday, but campaigners warned city-dwellers were still more vulnerable to the epidemic.
Cities including Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Milan and Frankfurt showed a reduction in average levels of noxious nitrogen dioxide over March 5-25, compared with the same period last year, according to the Sentinel-5 satellite images.
That coincides with lockdowns in many European countries which have curbed road transport – the largest source of nitrogen oxides - and slowed output at gas-emitting factories.
The new images, released by the European Space Agency (ESA) and analysed by the non-profit European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), show the changing density of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory problems and cancer, like heat maps.
Daily weather events can influence atmospheric pollution, so the satellite pictures took a 20-day average and excluded readings where cloud cover reduced the quality of the data.
Data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) showed a similar trend over March 16-22. In Madrid, average nitrogen dioxide levels decreased by 56% week-on-week after the Spanish government banned non-essential travel on March 14.
The EPHA said people living in polluted cities may be more at risk from COVID-19, because prolonged exposure to bad air can weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight infection.
“That connection is very likely,” Zoltan Massay-Kosubek, policy manager for clean air at EPHA, told Reuters. “But because the disease is new, it still has to be demonstrated.”
Air pollution can cause or exacerbate lung cancer, pulmonary disease and strokes.
China also recorded a drop in nitrogen dioxide pollution in cities during February, when the government imposed draconian lockdown measures to contain the raging epidemic.
In some regions of Poland, however, nitrogen dioxide levels remained relatively high during the period despite its lockdown, perhaps due to the prevalence of coal-based heating.
Countries that went into lockdown later - such as Britain, which did so on March 23 - look set for a pollution reprieve in coming weeks, EPHA said.
Air pollution causes around 400,000 premature deaths each year in Europe, EEA data show.
Updated Date: Mar 31, 2020 09:30:47 IST
World Thyroid Day 2020: Can thyroid disease lead to weight gain?
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) study shows increased mortality in COVID-19 patients just as ICMR widens its use in India
COVID-19 vaccine update: Chinese vaccine Phase 1 trial results show some promise but also a few temporary side-effects
Life after COVID-19: What the road to recovery from the coronavirus looks like
New study claims that COVID-19 could cause thyroid disease in patients
10 ways you can help children with intellectual disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic
Bangladesh medical team says Ivermectin with antibiotic Doxycycline works to treat COVID-19 patients
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Mumbai reports 1,382 new COVID-19 cases; confirmed infections rise to 25,317
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: 366 new COVID-19 infections reported in Gujarat today, total number of cases rises to 11,746 in state
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Rajasthan reports highest single-day spike in cases as 242 more test positive; case count climbs to 5,202, toll touches 131
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Railways will partially restore train services from 1 June, says Centre; bookings for 200 trains to begin tomorrow
Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Assam reports highest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases with 39 new infections; 107 active cases in state currently