Less Air Pollution

Europe’s Cities Have Less Air Pollution Since Lockdown

[custom_headline type=”left” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Europe’s Cities Have Less Air Pollution Since Lockdown[/custom_headline]

Less air pollution has been seen in urban areas across Europe during lockdowns to combat the coronavirus, new satellite images showed on Monday, but campaigners warned city-dwellers were still more vulnerable to the epidemic.

Cities including Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Milan and Frankfurt showed a reduction in average levels of noxious nitrogen dioxide over March 5-25, compared with the same period last year, according to the Sentinel-5 satellite images.

That coincides with lockdowns in many European countries which have curbed road transport – the largest source of nitrogen oxides – and slowed output at gas-emitting factories.

The new images, released by the European Space Agency (ESA) and analysed by the non-profit European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), show the changing density of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory problems and cancer, like heat maps.

[text_output]Daily weather events can influence atmospheric pollution, so the satellite pictures took a 20-day average and excluded readings where cloud cover reduced the quality of the data.[/text_output]
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[text_output]The EPHA said people living in polluted cities may be more at risk from COVID-19, because prolonged exposure to bad air can weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight infection.

“That connection is very likely,” Zoltan Massay-Kosubek, policy manager for clean air at EPHA, told Reuters. “But because the disease is new, it still has to be demonstrated.”[/text_output]

[text_output]Air pollution can cause or exacerbate lung cancer, pulmonary disease and strokes. China also recorded a drop in nitrogen dioxide pollution in cities during February, when the government imposed draconian lockdown measures to contain the raging epidemic.[/text_output]
[text_output]In some regions of Poland, however, nitrogen dioxide levels remained relatively high during the period despite its lockdown, perhaps due to the prevalence of coal-based heating. Countries that went into lockdown later – such as Britain, which did so on March 23 – look set for a pollution reprieve in coming weeks, EPHA said. Air pollution causes around 400,000 premature deaths each year in Europe, EEA data show.[/text_output]

News: Reuters. Editing by Andrew Cawthorne Main Photo: Paris