As the coronavirus spreads around the world, schools, companies, shops, bars, festivals, clubs, and any group gathering that involves socializing has ground to a halt. Countries are shutting down in response to the coronavirus, resulting in less traffic and industrial activity, therefore, a significant drop in air pollution over entire nations.
The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-5P satellite, shows a map of the world’s gases in the atmosphere such as carbon monoxide, methane, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide.
NASA reported a significant drop in nitrogen dioxide emissions in China, a few weeks ago, as parts of the country went into quarantine lockdown. Now, it appears Italy, which on March 22nd has the highest number of COVID-19 cases next to China, is experiencing a similar drop.
Data on Europe’s nitrogen dioxide emissions between January 1st and March 11th was compiled by the ESA using a 10-day moving average. The northern region of Italy, where the lockdown was first implemented, saw a noticeable drop in the concentration of airborne pollutants.
Claus Zehner, Copernicus Sentinel-5P mission manager of ESA, said:
The decline in nitrogen dioxide emissions over the Po Valley in northern Italy is particularly evident. Although there could be slight variations in the data due to cloud cover and changing weather, we are very confident that the reduction in emissions that we can see, coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities.
The burning of fossil fuels produces nitrogen dioxide. Therefore, most of the nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere comes from trucks, cars, buses, industrial facilities, and power plants. The coronavirus pandemic can teach us a lot about how air pollution is generated is generated in our world. Perhaps this data will help us to mitigate the thousands of deaths that happen, every single day, because of polluted air.