HEALTH

Air quality shows ‘cleaner world’ for Earth Day, study shows

Apr 22, 2020, 10:36 AM
A compilation of data from the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. Photo NASA...
A compilation of data from the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. Photo NASA

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report from IQ Air shows air pollution levels have dropped dramatically across the world, with unprecedented low levels as celebrations take place during the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

The study compares the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — a harmful air pollutant — around the world, before and after lockdown orders were put in place. Researchers found dramatic drops in pollution, noting the worldwide stay-at-home restrictions allowed for the “largest-scale experiment ever” into air quality.

“In many places, the halt of movement and industry has shown a glimpse of a cleaner world, with many reports of exceptional blue skies,” the report said. “Findings reveal a drastic drop in PM2.5 pollution for most global locations under lockdown conditions.”

Some studies have linked poor air quality to a higher likelihood of death from COVID-19, and IQ Air calling air pollution “far deadlier” than the coronavirus — with 90% of the world’s population breathing unsafe air, according to an article posted by the company in February.

“While the new coronavirus is dominating international headlines, a silent killer is contributing to nearly 7 million more deaths a year: air pollution,” Frank Hammes, IQAir CEO, said in a statement. “Through compiling and visualizing data from thousands of air quality monitoring stations, the 2019 World Air Quality Report gives new context to the world’s leading environmental health threat.”

However, with more people staying inside, cities with historically higher PM2.5 levels saw a substantial drop in air pollution.

The report analyzed the change in air pollutants in 10 major global cities:

  • Delhi — which was the fifth most polluted city in 2019, according to IQ Air.
  • London
  • Los Angeles
  • Milan
  • Mumbai
  • New York City
  • Rome
  • São Paulo
  • Seoul
  • Wuhan

Researchers collected data from a three-week period when each of these cities was in lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, they compared their findings with data from the same time period in 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016.

They found nine of the 10 cities experienced a drop in air pollution compared to the same time period in 2019, with major drops in Delhi (-60%), Seoul (-54%) and Wuhan (-44%) — which are all cities with historically higher levels of PM2.5 pollution, according to the study.

Additionally, Wuhan reported its cleanest February and March air quality on record during its 10-week lockdown. Similarly, Los Angeles experienced its longest streak of clean air on record, meeting the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines.

The study links the major drops in pollution to the restrictions of people moving around and the halt of economic activity, which have been imposed in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

Turkey and cattle farms near Moroni, Utah. Three additional cases of avian influenza have been conf...
Mark Jones

Three additional cases of avian influenza confirmed in Sanpete County

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food announced Friday that three additional cases of avian influenza have been confirmed on turkey farms in Sanpete County.
2 days ago
A sign for the Food and Drug Administration is seen outside of the headquarters in July 2020 in Whi...
Jacqueline Howard, CNN

ALS drug gets FDA approval despite uncertainty about effectiveness

The US Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment for ALS on Thursday.
2 days ago
university of utah...
Mark Jones

University of Utah Health among the nation’s top 10 for 13th year in row

The 2022 Vizient Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Award has ranked University of Utah Health in the top 10 for the 13th straight year.
3 days ago
intermountain healthcare...
Mark Jones

Name change coming to Intermountain Healthcare next year

In 2023, Intermountain Healthcare will change its name to Intermountain Health.
5 days ago
ovarian cancer...
Simone Seikaly

A new chance for a fighting chance against ovarian cancer

What may be most alarming about ovarian cancer is that the symptoms are there, but they are quiet and can be mistaken for something else.
5 days ago
Lincoln Beach pictured. Two shooting at Utah Lake happened near this beach....
Simone Seikaly

Utah County Health issues warning about harmful algal blooms

Utah County officials have detected high levels of harmful algal blooms at multiple Utah Lake marinas and beaches.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Air quality shows ‘cleaner world’ for Earth Day, study shows