The dual effects of Covid-19 lockdowns on air quality

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WITH so many people working from home or sheltering in place, a reduction in automobile emissions is one potentially positive outcome of the pandemic, even if it is temporary.
The American Geophysical Union’s journal Geophysical Research Letters recently published two papers that take a look at the effect of lockdowns on air quality.
They show that, on the one hand, levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter pollution over China, Western Europe, and the United States have fallen dramatically due to lockdown measures. However, on the other hand, levels of surface ozone in China have increased.
The pause in automobile emissions during the lockdown presents a rare chance to assess the impact of driving on air quality. The only somewhat comparable event was the reduction in China’s pollution that accompanied the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, that was of much shorter duration and encompassed a significantly smaller geographic area.
The researchers behind this paper studied satellite measurements of air quality over several major coronavirus epicenters: China, South Korea, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Iran and the US.
Experts have not observed reductions of such magnitude since satellite-based air quality monitoring began in the 1990s, according to Stavrakou.
The observed reductions, while widespread, did not occur everywhere. There was no decrease in nitrogen dioxide over Iran, one of the countries that Covid-19 has most affected. The authors hypothesize that this is due to a less stringent lockdown. After Iranian New Year, nitrogen dioxide levels did go down, but only to the levels that scientists see every year after this holiday.
NEW STUDY WARNS OF COVID-19 IMPACT ON CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH: A recent study shows that a significant number of people who develop coronavirus disease 19 (Covid-19) may experience serious cardiovascular complications. Moreover, some possible treatments of the respiratory disease could end up harming cardiovascular health.
As they assessed data from people who received medical care for Covid-19, researchers recently started paying attention to the relationship between the disease and cardiovascular symptoms. Dr Brady and colleagues report their findings in a paper that appears in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine.