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Air Quality in COVID-19 countries – Shanmugam IAS Academy
Air Quality


What’s in news?

The quality of Air is improving in countries under COVID-19 quarantines.

Key data’s:

  • Striking reduction in concentration of NO2 has been reported from China, Italy and Spain.
  • Images by the U.S. space agency NASA note that the concentration of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) fell dramatically in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, during the lockdown period.
  • Similar reductions have been observed in northern Italy and in Barcelona and Madrid, which have been locked down to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. In northern Italy, the average NO2 concentration levels have almost decreased by half.

What is Nitrogen dioxide?

  • NO2 is mainly produced by vehicles, industrial sites and thermal power stations. NO2 forms when fossil fuels such as coal, oil, gas or diesel are burned at high temperatures.
  • NO2 and other nitrogen oxides in the outdoor air contribute to particle pollution and to the chemical reactions that make ozone.
  • The pollutant can provoke serious inflammation of the respiratory system.
  • The current National Ambient Air Quality Standards notified by the Central Pollution Control Board consider NO2 as one of the pollutants in the list of its monitored emissions.
  • The dramatic drop off in NO2 levels can be attributed to the fact that NO2 is a short-lived pollutant, with a lifetime of about one day in the atmosphere.


  • The current observations point to the fact that the confinement measures currently in place will not only help reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection but also ease pollution from road traffic.

Data to know:

Colombo declaration:

  • Aim: The aim of the Declaration is to halve nitrogen waste by 2030.
  • Launched by: The declaration was an initiative of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • Organized by: It was organized by Sri Lanka with the support of UN and its member nations.
  • INMS: The Declaration is a joint activity of UNEP and Internationals Nitrogen Initiative – used to develop a technical support for this challenge of reduction in emission of nitrogen.

About Copernicus programme:

  • Copernicus is the European Union’s Earth observation programme coordinated and managed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), the EU Member States and EU Agencies.
  • Copernicus is the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES.
  • Copernicus programme aims at achieving a global, continuous, autonomous, high quality, wide range Earth observation capacity. It will help provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information which will help improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change.
  • ESA is developing a new family of satellites, called Sentinels, specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme.

Links to note:

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