With the Coronavirus in just about full swing, countries like China and Italy have seen massive numbers of quarantines in order to halt the spread of the disease.
In China alone ten of millions of people have been placed in unprecedented quarantine, including 11 million residents in the city of Wuhan, which was the original epicenter of the outbreak, reported Business Insider.
In Italy over 16 million people have been placed in quarantine and over 2,000 people have died. Italy has even been placed on a nationwide lockdown.
With all these quarantines there has been a significant reduction in traffic and therefore a drop in emissions and air pollution in both of these countries.
According to Reuters , the European Space Agency (ESA) said it saw a particular decline in emissions of nitrogen dioxide over the Po Valley region in northern Italy. This is a noxious gas that is emitted by things like power plants, cars and factories.
“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,” Claus Zehner, who manages the agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite mission, said in a statement, Reuters reported.
With boat traffic coming to a halt in Venice, the canals have turned from their usual murkiness to crystal clear waters. For the first time in years, residents are able to see fish in the canals.
“The water now looks clearer because there is less traffic on the canals, allowing the sediment to stay at the bottom,” a spokesman told CNN. “It’s because there is less boat traffic that usually brings sediment to the top of the water’s surface.”
However, experts say this newfound reduction in pollution won’t last, especially in China.
Lauri Myllyvirta, who is the lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air in Helsinki, Finland, spoke to Insider about the pollution rates.
She said the satellite-based measure of nitrogen-dioxide levels were down about 35% compared with the same four-week period after the Lunar New Year holiday last year.
“All of these sectors have been dramatically affected by the measures to contain the virus: Most factories have been closed or running at low capacity, either because of restrictions on operation or because employees haven’t been able to return from holidays, or because of lack of demand,” Myllyvirta said.
While this impact could continue for weeks or months, Myllyvirta said these low emissions might not last. This is because companies could ramp up production to compensate for their losses, reported Insider.