Although measures to curb the Corona virus have (almost) brought many polluters to a standstill, the effects on the trends from measurements are not as obviously visible as some may have expected. In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Dr. Birgit Fullerton, Head of Data Sience of Hawa Dawa, mentions possible reasons why the effects of the lock-down are not more clearly and sustainably recognizable in the air pollutant concentration in the area of Munich Airport (Süddeutsche Zeitung «At the airport you can hear the sparrows chirping»).
In principle, when studying cause-and-effect relationships in the field of air quality, comprehensive interactions between the pollutants, their sensitivity to other environmental influences (e.g. weather, temperature, wind) as well as eco-sociological influences must always be taken into account.
The fact that the reduction in the concentration of pollutants around Munich Airport is not sustainable for the entire period of the lock-down may be due to a change in the mobility behaviour of citizens, says Dr. Fullerton. The anti-corona measures are likely to reduce the lives of people. However, public transport is often replaced by private motor vehicle transport to avoid the risk of contagion. This could then lead to an increase in pollutants.
Only if the correlations are analyzed and understood in detail can valid models, forecasts and sustainable recommendations for action be derived from them. Therefore, it is essential to work in an interdisciplinary manner on the subject of air quality in order to be able to carry out data collection and analysis in a serious manner.
Measures to curb the Covid-19 virus pose major challenges for society and the economy, and there are fears that it will displace climate and environmental issues. There is now sound evidence of how air pollution increases the risk of disease up to the risk of death. (Do Air Pollution Levels Influence COVID-19 Mortality Risk?)It is to be hoped that a holistic approach will be taken here.
More information about air pollutants: Air quality Wiki