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Lockdowns, closures mean cleaner air in European cities

Jack Burton

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Lockdowns, closures mean cleaner air in European cities | The Thaiger
PHOTO: DevelopmentAid
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Lockdowns, travel restrictions and factory closures due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic are having some unexpected positive consequences. Satellite images show that cities around Europe, including Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Milan and Frankfurt, are showing a huge reduction in air pollution average levels of noxious nitrogen dioxide over compared with the same period last year.

New images, including heat maps, released by the European Space Agency and analysed by the nonprofit European Public Health Alliance, show the changing density of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory problems and cancer. (Weather events can influence air pollution, so the satellite pictures took a 20 day average and excluded readings where cloud cover reduced the quality of the data.)

In Madrid, average nitrogen dioxide levels decreased by 56% week-on-week after the Spanish government banned nonessential travel on March 14.

In abandoned Venice, dolphins were supposedly spotted in spotted in the city’s legendary canals, though this turned out to be “fake news.” The canal water, nonetheless, is clearer because of the huge decrease in boat traffic.

The EPHA says people living in polluted cities may be more at risk from the virus because prolonged exposure to bad air can weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight infection.

“That connection is very likely, but because the disease is new, it still has to be demonstrated.”

China also recorded a drop in air pollution in its major cities during February, when the government imposed draconian lockdown measures to contain the epidemic.

But in some regions of Poland, pollution levels remained high during the period despite its lockdown, possibly due to the prevalence of coal based heating. EEA data show that air pollution causes around 400,000 premature deaths each year in Europe.

SOURCES: Thai PBS World |Reuters

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Air Pollution

Bangkok’s air quality is ‘unhealthy’ today | VIDEO

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Bangkok’s air quality is ‘unhealthy’ today | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Air quality around Bangkok this morning is awful. Partly due to the lack of wind to blow the smog out of the area. To the south of Bangkok, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon, the air quality is even worse with visibility on the ground cut to less than a kilometre. You would be well advised to reduce you activities outside on a day of high air pollution in the capital. The rating by airvisual.com is ‘unhealthy’.

Bangkok's air quality is 'unhealthy' today | VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

Readings around the inner city vary between 190 – 220. Areas to the east, including around Suvarnabhumi Airport, are higher.

A lot of the smog and smoke is flowing down from the north and north east where plantation fires rage, mostly unenforced, this time of the year, from December to May. Farmers have been told, repeatedly, to avoid buying off the waste after harvests of corn, rice and sugar cane but officials have been disinclined to enforce the laws. Many of the farmers have long-term contracts with some of Thailand’s leading agri-business conglomerates.

Bangkok and the central region can expect many more months, especially as the temperatures rise throughout February, March and April and the winds remain low as the north-easterly monsoon weakens.

Bangkok's air quality is 'unhealthy' today | VIDEO | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: View across the Bangkok skyline from Sathorn this morning.

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Air Pollution

Bangkok enveloped in bad smog Friday

The Thaiger

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Bangkok enveloped in bad smog Friday | The Thaiger

Get out the anti-pollution masks and turn on the air purifier, air pollution in Bangkok is at unhealthy levels. 64 locations in Bangkok were reported with high levels of the air pollutant PM2.5, according to the Pollution Control Department.

As a cold weather front in China weakens, air circulation is also slowing down, causing dust to accumulate and drop to a lower altitude, according to the director-general of the Pollution Control Department. A north east monsoonal airflow blows a lot of the smoke from burn-offs and agricultural activity in Thailand’s north, south and south westerly.

Bangkok is just in the flow of the winds from up north. Drivers are advised not to keep the vehicle’s engines running while parked. Farmers are also asked not to burn farm wastes in open fields.

Everyone should reduce outdoor activities, he says. 64 areas in Bangkok recorded the dust particles reaching unhealthy levels. The highest PM 2.5 levels were reported in Amphoe Muang of Samut Sakhon and were classified as “very unhealthy.”

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Air Pollution

Air pollution at “unhealthy levels” in 64 areas in Bangkok

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Air pollution at “unhealthy levels” in 64 areas in Bangkok | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS

Get out the anti-pollution masks and turn on the air purifier, air pollution in Bangkok is at unhealthy levels. 64 locations in Bangkok have reported high levels of the air pollutant PM2.5, according to the Pollution Control Department. People are advised to avoid outdoor activities.

As a cold weather front in China weakens, air circulation is also slowing down, causing dust to accumulate and drop to a lower altitude, according to the director-general of the Pollution Control Department.

Drivers are advised not to keep the vehicle’s engines running while parked. Farmers are also asked not to burn farm wastes in open fields. Everyone should reduce outdoor activities, he says.

64 areas in Bangkok recorded the dust particles reaching unhealthy levels. The highest PM 2.5 levels were reported in Amphoe Muang of Samut Sakhon and were classified as “very unhealthy.”

Air pollution at

 

As of this morning, Bangkok ranked 20th on the list of cities with worst air quality, according to IQAir, but this is subject to change as the list is updated frequently and air conditions continuously fluctuate.

SOURCES: Bangkok Biz News | Thai PBS World | IQAir

 

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