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Air pollution drops in India following lockdown

Written by  Thursday, 23 April 2020 07:18
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Lockdowns imposed to halt the spread of the coronavirus have been recently linked with cleaner air quality over Europe and China. New images, from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite, from the European Union Copernicus programme, now show some cities across India seeing levels drop by around 40–50% owing to its nationwide quarantine.

NO2 concentrations over India
NO2 concentrations over India

Nitrogen dioxide is usually emitted into the atmosphere as a result from power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles – increasing the likelihood of developing respiratory problems. Because concentrations in our atmosphere vary widely on a daily basis, it is necessary to analyse data over substantial periods of time – allowing for more accurate assessments to be made.

Claus comments, “Weather variability is an important factor to consider when making assessments such as these, which is why our team has averaged the data over a longer period of time. In this case, we can clearly see the decreased concentrations are due to human activity.”

Air pollution is a major environmental health problem that affects people in developed and developing countries alike. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide each year.

According to a report using data from the World Air Quality Report from IQAir, Indian cities make up six of the world’s ten most-polluted urban areas. Air pollution in New Delhi, considered the world’s most polluted city, is caused by fumes from sclerotic traffic, the burning of fossil fuels, as well as industrial activity.

Josef Aschbacher, says, “It has never been more important to monitor the air we breathe. As we have seen over the previous months, the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite is the best satellite equipped to monitor nitrogen dioxide concentrations on a global scale”

With more than 23 000 reported cases of coronavirus across the country, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended the nationwide lockdown until at least 3 May.

About the Copernicus Sentinels

The Copernicus Sentinels are a fleet of dedicated EU-owned satellites, designed to deliver the wealth of data and imagery that are central to the European Union's Copernicus environmental programme. The European Commission leads and coordinates this programme, to improve the management of the environment, safeguarding lives every day. ESA is in charge of the space component, responsible for developing the family of Copernicus Sentinel satellites on behalf of the European Union and ensuring the flow of data for the Copernicus services, while the operations of the Copernicus Sentinels have been entrusted to ESA and EUMETSAT.

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