CORONAVIRUS lockdowns put in place across the planet are hugely improving the world’s air quality, new maps reveal.
The news comes as lower pollution levels were recorded throughout Britain and Europe after millions of workers either decided to or were made to stay at home.
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Levels of air pollution were deemed “low” at all 165 UK sites regularly monitored by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, reports The Times.
News of the significant reductions came after Boris Johnson urged anybody who could remain at home to do so.
The PM said more than a million people most at risk from Covid-19 should stay inside for 12 weeks and everyone else must avoid socialising.
He ramped up his virus battle plan by shutting down mass gatherings and urging everyone to stop non-essential travel and contact with others.
Pollution readings in London for nitrogen dioxide – emitted when vehicle fuel is burnt – have fallen by a third since Sunday.
Similar pollution drops have also been recorded in and around major cities in Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
Experts say a reduction in the number of commuters taking to the roads is clearly proving a big factor.
“It’s probably too early for any firm conclusions for the UK as pollution levels will vary day by day due to changes in the weather,” said Professor Ian Colbeck of the University of Essex.
“However, with reduced traffic, air pollution will be reduced.”
Satellite images show steep falls in nitrogen dioxide emissions in the wake of the lockdowns in Italy and China.
Data from Spain also suggests pollution levels are beginning to fall.
“The current data for Madrid is showing much lower concentrations than for Sunday, when you would have expected less traffic than a typical work day,” revealed Professor Colbeck.
European Space Agency data also shows sharp nitrogen dioxide declines over northern Italy – the epicentre of its outbreak.
“The decline in nitrogen dioxide emissions over the Po Valley in northern Italy is particularly evident,” said Claus Zehner, the mission manager for the ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite.
“Although there could be slight variations in the data due to cloud cover and changing weather, we are very confident that the reduction in emissions that we can see coincides with the lockdown in Italy causing less traffic and industrial activities.”
Earlier this month, Nasa revealed how pollution levels plummeted in China as a result of coronavirus.
The US space agency said it coincided with the economic slowdown resulting from the outbreak.
It released a graphic showing the difference in concentrations of nitrogen dioxide over China between January 1 and February 25.
Nasa satellites detected a massive drop in gas emitted from cars, power plants and industrial facilities across the country, where the coronavirus originated.
China has imposed restrictions on transport and business and put tens of millions of people into quarantine.
Nasa researcher Fei Liu said: “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event.”