BH CORRESPONDENT, New Delhi: The extended lockdown due to coronavirus may have caused a lot of inconveniences in the country for people, but residents in heavily polluted cities like Delhi and financial capital of Mumbai can now breathe cleaner air. This fact has been confirmed by specialist global air-quality monitoring agencies.
Major cities that suffer from the world’s worst air pollution have seen reductions of deadly particulate matter by up to 60 per cent from the previous year, during a three-week lockdowns period.
Researchers from IQAir – a global air quality information and tech company – studied 10 major cities around the world which have relatively high numbers of coronavirus cases and COVID-19 lockdown measures.
New Delhi which frequently tops the world’s most polluted city lists has seen a 60 per cent reduction in particulate matter (PM) 2.5 levels from March 23 to April 13 from the same period in 2019.
Both New Delhi and the country’s commercial centre, Mumbai, experienced their best March air quality on record in 2020.
During the initial three-week lockdown period, the number of hours rated as “unhealthy” in New Delhi dropped from 68 per cent in 2019 to 17 per cent in 2020.
On March 25, India placed its entire 1.3 billion population into lockdown, closing factories, markets, shops, places of worship and suspending most public transport services. The world’s largest lockdown was then extended to May 3.
India is one of the world’s most-polluted countries and an average resident is exposed to air pollution that exceeds the WHO’s target for annual PM 2.5 exposure by more than 500 per cent.
The report’s authors say that while they do expect air pollution to rise again when economies restart after coronavirus, “out of these extraordinary circumstances, we can see how changes in our society’s activities can have a momentous impact on our environment and the air we breathe,” said IQAir’s marketing specialist Kelsey Duska.