Smoke levels have fallen sharply in a number of European cities that have been contracted by a coronavirus, including Paris and the Italian cities of Rome, Milan and Bergamo, the epicenter of the European coronavirus outbreak.
Data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) confirm a sharp decline in concentrations of air pollutants, in particular nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
The service has this to do with the reduction in vehicle use and other activities, especially in the major cities that have closed, and says that in some locations, about half has been reduced.
Bergamo, Italy, the epicenter of the European Coronavirus outbreak, is a very industrial city and the sky is normally filled with smog as depicted before the city shutdown
Views of the Eiffel Tower and the empty Pont d’Iena show how Paris’ skies have cleared since France stepped in to slow the spread of the corona virus
The Paris air behind the Eiffel Tower is often smoggy. The iconic tower was closed on March 13 due to the distribution of COVID-19
The data to which the EEA has access is almost real-time, as it is recorded on site every hour at approximately 3,000 monitoring stations across the continent.
Despite the positive declines, Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the EEA, warned of the long-term environmental impact of a damaged economy caused by the corona virus.
He said, “EMA’s data accurately reflects the decline in air pollution, especially as a result of less traffic in cities.
However, tackling long-term air quality problems requires ambitious policies and forward-looking investments. As such, the current crisis and its many implications for our society run counter to what we are trying to achieve, which is a just and well-managed transition to a resilient and sustainable society. ‘
Satellite images of Europe show the drop in pollution. Top: Pollution levels in January, before countries started shutting down. Below: March 11, after many countries in Europe have closed
Pollution is falling in major European cities: figures published by the European Environment Agency
Mean NO2 concentrations in the past four weeks were at least 24% lower than four weeks earlier this year. The average concentration in the week of March 16-22 was 21% lower than in the same week in 2019.
Here, NO2 pollution has continuously decreased over the past four weeks. The average concentration in the week of March 16-22 was 47% lower than in the same week in 2019.
Average NO2 concentrations in the past four weeks were 26-35% lower than in the same weeks in 2019.
Average NO2 levels dropped by 40% from one week to the next. Compared to the same week in 2019, the reduction was 55%.
The average NO2 level decreased by 56% from week to week. Compared to the same week in 2019, the reduction was 41%.
Average NO2 levels dropped by 40% from one week to the next. Compared to the same week in 2019, the reduction was 51%.
Before and after locking. Left: Previously, pollution in Europe was visibly widespread, especially in Northern Italy and major cities. Right: As major cities have closed, pollution levels have fallen
According to French Air Force surveillance, home deliveries in France to combat the coronavirus outbreak have resulted in a 20 to 30 percent drop in total air pollution levels in Paris.
The closure has taken countless cars and vans off the road since its entry into force on March 17, and has significantly reduced the number of flights at the two airports serving the capital.
The Airparif report said that just two days after self-confinement began, it registered an “air quality improvement of 20 to 30 percent in the metropolis of Paris after nitric oxide emissions fell by more than 60 percent.”
Clear sky and empty roads: The Arc de Triumph in Paris and the roundabout on which it is located is usually one of the busiest roads in the city
Before closing, this is what you’d expect at the Arc de Triump. Busy roads and smoggy skies have both cleared up in recent weeks
On major thoroughfares, the biggest improvements were, with pollution levels dropping to those normally seen only in the city’s parks.
“This decrease in air pollution was accompanied by a decrease in carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, underscoring the links between these two problems and the shared climate benefits of improving air quality,” Airparif said.
However, it noted that the blockage had not led to significant decreases in so-called PM2.5 and PM10 particles, the smallest and most harmful air pollutants, which can penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the bloodstream.
Parisian police officers patrol the streets of Paris to enforce closure across the country
Airparif said the increased cold weather home heating, coupled with continued agricultural activity in the surrounding areas, had caused particle levels not to drop.
“But due to the sharp traffic drops, levels have not risen to alarm levels, which would likely have been the case under normal circumstances,” it said.
France is currently the country with the seventh highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases. According to Johns Hopkins University coronavirus information center, it has had more than 22,000 confirmed cases, with 1,100 deaths.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at a conference call to set up the CARE Committee (Committee for Analysis, Investigation and Expertise) – the Committee for Analysis, Research and Expertise