Cities worldwide have been imposing lockdowns due to coronavirus, leading to traffic reductions and related to that, less NO2 pollution. The strength of the effect is not the same everywhere, being dependent on a number of variables, such as pollution levels and amount of traffic before the lockdown at the particular location, fleet composition, weather conditions and topography and urban architecture.
About Birgit Fullerton
Dr Birgit Fullerton is a co-founder of Hawa Dawa and a leading data scientist at Sensor calibration and spatial pollutant modelling. She has in a PhD in neuroscience and has many years of professional experience in statistical data analysis, epidemiology, and health sciences with more than 15 published studies. She is a member of the advisory board of the SmartAQNet project of the Federal Ministry of Transport.
I have recently heard people uttering disappointment regarding the rather small effect they have observed at official measurement stations in Munich during the time of the lockdown due to the coronavirus. Looking at the raw hourly measurement traces at different locations in and around Munich, we can see a very clear drop during the initial phase of the lockdown, with concentrations coming up again after that. So we decided to take a deeper look. We considered impacts from weather conditions, season-specific influences as well as mobility behaviour.
While the world has focused its full attention on the current coronavirus outbreak, other issues we were concerned about regarding our health might currently seem almost irrelevant to many of us. However, there is one factor that shouldn’t be ignored – potentially not even when looking at survival rates of COVID-19: air pollution.