Pollution goes sky-high despite lockdown

Particulate matter pollution has increased as the week has continued, despite media reports last week of the Coronavirus lockdown resulting in reduced pollution levels.

Pollution goes sky-high despite lockdown

Undetectable with the mark one nose, but clear on the graphs so far this week, is the increased PM pollution as the week has continued. Last week there were a number of media reports commenting on the significantly reduced atmospheric pollution in cities due to reduced traffic levels. That doesn't seem to be the case here this week. Despite the apparently reduced pollution due to lockdowns across Europe there was still enough pollution circulating to break through into the DAQI "moderate" range (≥36μg/m³ for PM2.5) on Thursday, and then dramatically on Friday morning to break above 100μg/m³, with the 24h average (DAQI) reading rising above 37μg/m³ and continuing to increase at the time of writing.

Instantaneous PM2.5 rises above 100μg/m³, and 24h average is rising above 37μg/m³

Unsurprisingly, MetClim (based in Varese just outside Milan in northern Italy hardest hit by Covid-19) haven’t released a new air pollution forecast since last Friday, but the tail end of their most recent long range forecast indicates that the bulk of the air pollution we have just experienced has come from continental and channel sources.

The wind has indeed frequently been out of the south again since Sunday, bringing with it not just the particulate matter pollution but also the reek of the local water works too. Even with the strong winds at the start of the week the pong was still unmistakable. The Coronavirus lockdown means locals cannot get away from it for a bit of respite unless they are doing essential travel to work. Thankfully there has been enough variation in wind direction for it not to be all day every day.

We are expecting a change in the weather over the weekend, which may be bring with it cleaner and less offensive smelling air, albeit rain too.

If you are reading this during the lockdown, I hope you are well, and that you stay well. Why not take the opportunity to think through the consequences of the way we live in this world a bit further here?