The COVID-19 Lockdown Can Help Devise Measures to Mitigate Air Pollution

Saturday, Apr 4, 2020
by Disha Sharma

"COVID-19 has cast a global gloom by causing severe damage to health, the economy and general societal well-being. Temporarily, clean air provides some respite while a major portion of the world population remains indoors, abiding by social distancing norms. In India too, after many years, the blue sky can be spotted in normally hazy regions, as corroborated by satellite images, pollution data, and social media posts. However, the present air quality (AQ) improvement in India dwells in irony. Amidst the devastating COVID-19 crisis, it is neither the time to rejoice clean air nor would one want air quality to improve this way in the future.

Moreover, this clean air phase is short lived and temporary. Some experts are concerned that environmental restrictions will be loosened to bounce back from the COVID-19 related economic losses. As a result, achieving better air quality may be harder than ever when the global crisis ends. Poor AQ, in fact, makes people more vulnerable to respiratory diseases, like the one caused by COVID-19. Some of the underlying conditions that make certain people “high risk” for coronavirus complications (asthma, COPD) are caused or made worse by exposure to air pollution. Poor AQ increases societal vulnerability in many ways.

Nevertheless, the ongoing episode could be an important opportunity to identify the key drivers of air pollution in regional airsheds." Continue reading the full article in The Wire, Science.