Free flowing traffic makes it easier to breathe: Air pollution is at 30% of pre-exit levels in London and major UK cities as vehicles queue less
- An analysis of more than 100 road shoulders has shown that the nitrogen dioxide content has decreased
- This is despite the return of almost normal traffic levels after the reduction of the lock
- Staggered commuting and home work mentions factors that reduce congestion
Air pollution is lower than expected in UK cities, despite the easing of the coronavirus restrictions that result in a return to near normal traffic levels, new research shows.
An analysis of more than 100 roadside locations across the country by the University of York found that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution levels were 30 percent lower than normal as of July 1 – despite lifting many cut-off rules.
At the height of the crisis, NO2 levels were about 56 percent lower than normal across the country, the study found.
Graphs show how congestion is easing and air is cleaner than normal despite traffic returning to near normal levels
Staggered commuting and working from home are listed as factors that reduce congestion, which may contribute to air pollution.
Likewise, TomTom traffic data at its peak at 5 p.m. yesterday showed that congestion had fallen by 21 percent from its 2019 average.
It also showed that this week’s average congestion was 25 percent, compared to 38 percent in late February and early March, before lockdown conditions were imposed.
This is despite the fact that there is now a similar number of vehicles on the roads as before closing, with freight traffic returning to 95 percent of normal levels, vans at 90 percent and cars at 75 percent, according to the Guardian.
Dr. David Carslaw, who led the analysis, said: ‘The data in the UK showed a deep dive after locking in for nitrogen dioxide concentrations averaging about 50 percent nationally and a slower recovery.
“According to the air quality data, it is no longer normal. It seems that although the traffic levels look like they usually return to normal, the concentrations of some air pollutants are still considerably lower than expected.
TomTom traffic data at the peak at 5 p.m. yesterday showed that congestion had decreased by 21 percent from the average level in 2019
“We think that the reason is that the congestion has not fully returned and that this has a fairly large effect on emissions and therefore concentrations.
“It is quite a challenge to measure the impact of air pollution through congestion, because there are so many factors that influence emissions.
“The analysis of data collected during the lockout and emerging from the lockout could give researchers the opportunity to understand more about the links between air pollution and congestion.”
NO2, mainly produced by diesel vehicles, has been illegal in many cities in the past decade and is believed to be responsible for approximately 23,500 premature deaths annually.
The colleague of Dr. Carslaw at university, Professor Alastair Lewis, suggested that vehicles that had to queue less often were a key factor.
“The relatively modest rebound in NO2 is probably a complex mix of smoother traffic and changes in commuting behavior,” he said. Times.
‘There may also be less obvious influences, for example, free-flowing traffic causes turbulence in the air and helps to prevent pollution, while stationary traffic does not.
Traffic was queuing on the M5 last weekend, but nitrogen dioxide levels are 30 percent lower than normal, even after the lock restrictions have eased
This is in addition to the more obvious effects of repeated stop-starts that are a critical cause [vehicle] pollution.’
Scientists said last week “it wouldn’t be surprising” if there is a link between past or past exposure to air pollution and the number and severity of coronavirus infections.
Given this, it would not be surprising if there was a link between exposure to air pollution – past or present – and the occurrence or severity of COVID-19 infection.
This previously led lawyers to claim that the government has a “legal obligation” to review its air quality strategy.
A select committee of MPs will also investigate the delay in cities rolling out clean air zones due to the pandemic.