How the coronavirus in reducing pollution in Portugal

The past few weeks in lockdown are improving the air quality globally, several sources are pointing out.

The main reason is the drastic reduction in traffic, especially in the big cities, followed by the drop in the search for oil, a slowdown in coal consumption and the suspension of thousands of flights across the globe.

According to Lusa Agency, the world is issuing a million tonnes less of carbon dioxide per day.

Also the European Environment Agency confirms high reductions in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) due to the countries’ containment measures related to fighting the spread of Covid-19. In some places, these reductions were so pronounced that NO2 levels dropped to half of what they used to be.

The decrease in industrial activities and the circulation of vehicles is showing in satellite images across the globe. New data gathered by the Sentinel-5P satellite from the European Commission and the European Space Agency show strong decreases in nitrogen dioxide concentrations in several European cities, including Lisbon and Oporto.

According to Rádio Renascença, in Portugal in the last weeks was observed a decrease of 80% of nitrogen dioxide emissions in Lisbon and 60% in Oporto, as shown in the image above.

Photo: Rádio Renascença/AIR Centre

The relation between pollution and the worsening of Covid-19 infected patients is still unclear but what we know for sure is that air pollution affects health and can lead to respiratory diseases.

A new study from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air shows that a month of lockdown can have sparred 11000 lives across Europe and 609 specifically in Portugal due to this general improvement in air quality. The study compared the same period last year, which revealed that levels of nitrogen dioxide have now fallen by 40% while tiny particulate matter decreased 10%, which means that people can breathe easier. These two forms of pollution, which weaken the heart and respiratory system, are together normally responsible for about 470,000 deaths in Europe each year.

What we can conclude is that, although this pandemic is having tragic consequences in the world, especially in what concerns the economy, it is also showing us how to slow down and helping us and the planet to breathe.