Air pollution plummets amid COVID-19 outbreak

Meanwhile... pollution is dropping to record lows virtually everywhere in the world. These before/after shots show us a silver lining to the lockdown measures.

How has the lockdown affected pollution levels?

In Seoul, air pollution has visibly reduced since late January, when the authorities asked the 9 million inhabitants to limit their movements. The city, which also benefits from the drop in emissions of its neighbor China, has lowered its NO2 levels, a pollutant caused by road transport and industrial activity.

Italy is experiencing the same phenomenon. Here, lockdown measures were imposed in early March and have reduced NO2 levels by 40%. In Paris, road traffic has been almost nonexistent since the country’s lockdown on March 17. In Île-de-France, NO2 levels have dropped over 60%. However, fine particles from residential heating and agriculture are still very present in the air.

In New York, air quality is also starting to improve. NO2 emissions have decreased by more than 50% compared to usual levels. In Los Angeles, a city known for its traffic and dependency on cars, the streets are empty. On March 18 at 5:00 p.m, the usual rush hour, traffic was 71% faster than usual.