What is it about?

Many have noted how city haze cleared, dust settled and general air quality improved during COVID-19 lockdowns. We were able to map where and how much air quality improved around the world. We found that not all air pollutants decreased, however large decreases in nitrogen dioxide were clearly lined to declines in human mobility patterns.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that it is possible to improve global air quality through reductions in transportation sector emissions. Although the COVID-19 lockdowns are not sustainable, there are many alternative transport solutions that can achieve similar declines in air pollution. This may significantly reduce the global health burden.


I hope this research highlights the magnitude of our global human footprint on the atmosphere. It is one of the rare moments in history where we have witnessed air quality benefits caused by a situation counterfactual to business as usual.

Zander Venter
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: COVID-19 lockdowns cause global air pollution declines, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2006853117.
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