Strict measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 decreased the concentrations of air pollutants approx. by 25 %. Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMI) published an analysis on air pollutants concentrations development in the period of month before and after the quarantine measures, as well as compared the concentrations with previous years.
Distinct decrease in NO2 and NOx concentrations can be mainly attributed to transport restrictions and partially to the industry cutbacks. However, concentrations of particulate matter PM10 are strongly affected by cross-border transfer and are mainly produced by households while heating – more than 60 %, followed by agriculture, transport and industry. We can assume that moderate increase in household heating emissions will be compensated by moderate decrease in transport and industry emissions.
Positive impact of measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on air quality offers a short-lived consolation. The pandemic takes a toll too high on lives across the world. No wonder that there is assumed increased risk of coronavirus affecting people in areas with deteriorating air quality. Long-term exposure to pollutants in general leads to severe consequences ranging from respiratory system failure, cardiovascular disease, cognitive disorders to premature death. That is why it is necessary to adopt measures for long-term air quality improvement in shortest period possible.
Check out the comprehensive SHMI analysis (in Slovak): http://www.shmu.sk/sk/?page=2049&id=1054