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Unprecedented reduction in air pollution and corresponding short-term premature mortality associated with COVID-19 lockdown in Delhi, India

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Anil Namdeo, Professor Margaret Carol Bell CBE, Dr Paul Goodman

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

© 2021 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.Countries around the world introduced strict restrictions on movement and activities known as ‘lockdowns’ to restrict the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from the end of 2019. A sudden improvement in air quality was observed globally as a result of these lockdowns. To provide insight into the changes in air pollution levels in response to the COVID-19 restrictions we have compared surface air quality data in Delhi during four phases of lockdown and the first phase of the restriction easing period (25 March to 30 June 2020) with data from a baseline period (2018–2019). Simultaneously, short-term exposure of PM2.5 and O3 attributed premature mortality were calculated to understand the health benefit of the change in air quality. Ground–level observations in Delhi showed that concentrations of PM10, PM2.5 and NO2 dropped substantially in 2020 during the overall study period compared with the same period in previous years, with average reductions of ~49%, ~39%, and ~39%, respectively. An overall lower reduction in O3 of ~19% was observed for Delhi. A slight increase in O3 was found in Delhi’s industrial and traffic regions. The highest peak of the diurnal variation decreased substantially for all the pollutants at every phase. The decrease in PM2.5 and O3 concentrations in 2020, prevented 904 total premature deaths, a 60% improvement when compared to the figures for 2018–2019. The restrictions on human activities during the lockdown have reduced anthropogenic emissions and subsequently improved air quality and human health in one of the most polluted cities in the world. Implications: I am submitting herewith the manuscript entitled “Unprecedented Reduction in Air Pollution and Corresponding Short-term Premature Mortality Associated with COVID-19 Forced Confinement in Delhi, India” for potential publishing in your journal. The novelty of this research lies in: (1) we utilized ground-level air quality data in Delhi during four phases of lockdown and the first phase of unlocking period (25th March to 30th June) for 2020 as well as data from the baseline period (2018–2019) to provide an early insight into the changes in air pollution levels in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, (2) Chatarize the change of diurnal variation of the pollutants and (3) we assess the health risk due to PM2.5 and O3. Results from ground-level observations in Delhi showed that concentrations of PM10, PM2.5 and NO2 substantially dropped in 2020 during the overall study period compared to the similar period in previous years, with an average reduction of ~49%, ~39%, and ~39%, respectively. In the case of O3, the overall reduction was observed as ~19% in Delhi, while a slight increase was found in industrial and traffic regions. And consequently, the highest peak of the diurnal variation decreased substantially for all the pollutants. The health impact assessment of the changes in air quality indicated that 904 short-term premature deaths (~60%) were prevented due to the decline in PM2.5 and O3 concentrations in the study period. The restrictions on human activities during the lockdown have reduced the anthropogenic emissions and subsequently improved air quality and human health in one of the most polluted cities in the world.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Maji KJ, Namdeo A, Bell M, Goodman P, Nagendra SMS, Barnes JH, De Vito L, Hayes E, Longhurst JW, Kumar R, Sharma N, Kuppili SK, Alshetty D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association

Year: 2021

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 15/04/2021

Acceptance date: 15/03/2021

Date deposited: 04/05/2021

ISSN (print): 1096-2247

ISSN (electronic): 2162-2906

Publisher: Bellwether Publishing, Ltd.

URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/10962247.2021.1905104

DOI: 10.1080/10962247.2021.1905104

PubMed id: 33764280


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