The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to reach unprecedented levels leading to economies coming to a standstill, the hoarding of supplies rendering stores empty, and millions of people being forced to stay indoors. Therefore, it is difficult to think of any silver linings emerging from this situation, but one emerges nonetheless. The COVID-19 pandemic has successfully promoted massive drops in air pollution.
These air changes were first noted in areas like Wuhan, China where COVID-19 first struck the hardest. NASA scientists have noticed a significant decrease in NO2 pollution. This is because Chinese authorities have shut down much of the city leading to reduced air pollution from motor vehicles, power plants, and industrial facilities.
As most of China begins to take similar precautions as Wuhan, the pollution levels are slowly dropping around the country.
“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” states Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
However, China is not the only country to detect changes. Italy has also been struck hard by COVID-19 and, similar to China, they are taking precautions to limit the escalation of this virus. As a result, Italian authorities have also noticed a decrease in air pollution.
As the rest of the world follows in the footsteps of Italy and China in quarantine, it is likely we will see an even greater drop in pollution. This goes to show that even in the face of a terrifying global pandemic, there is still a silver lining.