Air pollution in world’s major cities back to pre-lockdown levels

Air pollution in major global cities has seen a significant surge following the easing of lockdown restrictions, according to recent analysis conducted by Instant Offices. 

Instant Offices used data from the World Air Quality Index in order to compare particulate matter (PM2.5) levels in 15 major cities between February and May and June and July. 

During peak lockdown, air pollution fell in Hong Kong by 16%, in Sydney by 13%, and in Singapore by 14%.

However, the researchers found that as lockdown restrictions were eased Beijing, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town and New York saw a double-digit increase in PM2.5 levels.

New York saw a considerable dip in PM2.5  during peak lockdown when pollution levels plunged by 59%. However, as things in the city slowly started to return to normal there has been a 33% increase in air pollution with pollution almost reaching pre-lockdown levels.

John Williams, head of marketing at The Instant Group said: ‘Earlier this year, we saw an unprecedented pause in global activity as most countries went into lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.

‘Just two weeks in, PM2.5 levels plunged across some of the world’s busiest cities, leading to improved air quality, increased visibility and even some historical moments, like the Himalaya’s becoming visible for the first time in 30 years in India.

‘Now, as life slowly returns to normal around the world, our air quality comparison across 15 major cities reveals that while some are still benefitting from cleaner air, others have seen pollution skyrocket.’

In related news, researchers from the University of Leeds found that the two most harmful air pollutants, particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone, hardly declined during the lockdown period in China.

The researchers found that while concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) did show improvements, the two most harmful pollutants to human health hardly declined.

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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