From dolphins frolicking through the canals of Venice to Mont Blanc being once again visible from the Arrondissements of Paris, the positive environmental impacts of the coronavirus have occasionally been overstated.
That said, from China to Europe, scientists have noted a fall in pollution – particularly air pollution – due to reductions in industry as well as air travel.
A study completed by the Laboratory for Air Pollution / Environmental Technology at Switzerland’s Empa research institute has shown declines in air pollution in a number of areas of Switzerland – although the improvements in air quality have not been universal.
The research sought to determine the extent to which improved air quality could be deemed a result of less emissions – or whether it was due to weather, i.e. higher winds and mild winter temperatures.
Decreases in nitrogen oxide and dioxide
The study, which began in mid-March when the lockdown measures were initially put into place, showed the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxide (NX) levels decreased by an average of 50 percent in locations across Switzerland.
The most significant decreases were measured in Lugano, Bern and Lausanne, however there were notable drops all across the country.
Zurich, Magadino, Basel and Solothurn also saw improvements in air quality.
Increases in pollutants?
Not all areas of Switzerland showed improvements in air quality.
In Beromünster, Lucerne, significant increases in nitrogen levels were recorded from before the coronavirus lockdown took place until April 8th.
Empa however believes that this is due mainly to weather conditions which concentrated the pollutants, rather than there being an increase in emissions in the largely rural area.
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