Air pollution plunges by nearly 50% in New York City amid COVID-19 pandemic

Air pollution plunges by nearly 50% in New York City amid COVID-19 pandemic

Air pollution has reportedly plunged in New York City, as a result of the mass quarantining caused by the recent coronavirus pandemic.

According to researchers at Columbia University, traffic levels in the city have dropped by a whopping 35% compared with 2019, and emissions of carbon monoxide have fallen by around 50% for several days this week. The researchers believe that this makes the pollution the lowest recorded since the financial crisis over a decade ago.

Pollution in Italy has also dropped dramatically, as this time-lapse footage shows:

Commenting on their findings in an interview with BBC News, Prof Róisín Commane of Columbia University, stated: "New York has had exceptionally high carbon monoxide numbers for the last year and a half. And this is the cleanest I have ever seen it. It's is less than half of what we normally see in March ... I expect we will have the smallest increase in May to May peak CO2 that we've had in the northern hemisphere since 2009, or even before."

A cyclist in Times Square. Credit: PA Images

A reduction in pollution, and a rise in air quality also seems to have taken place in Italy, where recent satellite pictures have shown that a lack of traffic caused by the quarantine has had a positive outcome for the environment.

The World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 pandemic, prompting many people around the world to begin self-isolating to avoid putting a strain on hospitals.

In a statement, WHO wrote that they had been: "Assessing this outbreak around the clock, and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic."

At the time of writing, there have now been 247,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across 114 countries worldwide, and a total of 10,067 deaths, according to John Hopkins University.