TheEuropean space agency (ESA) released a video over the weekend showing the evolution of air pollution during the Coronavirus crisis in China. We can observe the difference in the rate of pollution during containment and return to normal across the country.
The animation is based on data from the 5 P Copernicus Sentinel satellite. The satellite analyzes the levels of nitrogen dioxide, a gas produced by the combustion of fossil fuels also called NO2, between December 20 and March 16. “The drop in the level of these concentrations, which can be seen in late January, coincides with the national quarantine period. “Explains the report” and since the beginning of March the level of nitrogen dioxide has gone up again “.
ESA project manager Claus Zhener estimates that NO2 dropped by 40% during quarantine. According to the researchers, NO2 reacts with other chemical elements present in the air to form a particulate matter, which is called: fine particles. And the study also shows that a drop in particulate matter production took place in China during the quarantine.
“By correlating satellite observations with computer models of the atmosphere, the study shows a 20-30% reduction in fine particles all over China. Said a study report on Friday.
These revelations are all the more important, since nitrogen dioxide and fine particles are both the cause of heart and respiratory diseases in China. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the WHO have identified PM 2.5 particulate matter as the leading cause of death from air pollution.
But it doesn’t stop there, air pollution is the cause of 1.1 million deaths a year in China and costs the Chinese economy more than $ 38 billion. That’s why, earlier this month Professor Marshall Burke revealed that these two months of quarantine due to the coronavirus had saved more than 77,000 children and the elderly, only by reducing exposure to air pollution. . Air pollution worldwide is the cause of 7 million deaths a year.
But according to some studies, air pollution can also worsen the effects of the coronavirus. Indeed, analyzes have revealed chronic hypertension in patients who died from COVID-19. This says a lot about what these two pollutants can constitute as a risk for humans. In addition, hypertension may be due to air pollution. Knowing that nitrogen dioxide and fine particles are both responsible for respiratory problems in humans, this poses an additional risk. According to the American EPA: “Breathing air high in nitrogen dioxide can irritate the respiratory tract in humans. Such short-term exposures can worsen respiratory illnesses, especially asthma, resulting in respiratory symptoms (such as coughing or difficulty breathing), hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Long-term exposure to high NO2 concentrations can contribute to the development of asthma and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. “
Nitrogen dioxide is not a greenhouse gas. Although greenhouse gases have seen a similar drop since several countries have quarantined themselves, closed their factories, and significantly reduced car traffic.
“Since nitrogen dioxide is mainly produced by traffic and factories, it is the world’s leading indicator of industrial activity. Said Josef Aschbacher, director of ESA Earth Observation Programs.
The 5 P Copernicus Sentinel satellite monitors air pollution by measuring the multitudes of traces of gases and aerosols. Last week ESA also released a video showing the decline in pollution in northern Italy when it entered quarantine. On which we can see that very quickly the air pollution dropped drastically.
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