The measures to combat the coronavirus have led to an approximately 40% reduction in average level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution and 10% reduction in average level of particulate matter pollution over the past 30 days, resulting in 11,000 avoided deaths from air pollution (95% confidence interval: 7,000 – 21,000). This effect comes as power generation from coal has fallen 37% and oil consumption by an estimated 1/3. Coal and oil burning are the main sources of NO2 pollution and key sources of particulate matter pollution across Europe.
These findings are based on a new CREA assessment of the air quality and health impacts of reduced fossil fuel consumption during the epidemic.
Other avoided health impacts include 1.3 million fewer days of work absence, 6,000 fewer new cases of asthma in children, 1,900 avoided emergency room visits due to asthma attacks and 600 fewer preterm births. Most of these health impacts are linked to chronic air pollution exposure and will be realized over coming months and years.
The health impact analysis also highlights how, regardless of improved air quality, air pollution is contributing to the load on the healthcare system at the time of the epidemic — because of air pollution there are more people suffering from pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to the disease, and more people requiring treatment for everything from asthma to stroke and diabetes while the system is overburdened.
Read more at Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air | 2020