With what is currently happening all around the world, our lives have changed. Coronavirus pandemic has been very influential to the lives of everyone all around the world, especially during lockdowns and self-quarantine period.
We all can see it from how traffic to and for works dramatically down in the last few months. In addition to that, air pollution from factories happen to be the same. Most of our air-polluting activities has been decreased in quantities in recent months thanks to coronavirus.
But does it mean that the pandemic has stepped up to be our savior to combat air pollution? Does it mean that this coronavirus pandemic is a bless in disguise to the nature? Do we really need to be treated this bad to make the world in balance?
In this case, the question needs to be asked is: “Do this coronavirus is the help that we need to combat air pollution?”. Here in this article we are going to talk about it.
More Pollution Means More Severe Symptoms
To begin with, we should see how most polluted cities are the most impacted by coronavirus. Northern Italy is one of the examples: the region is considered to be one of the most polluted regions in the country, and during the pandemic it bears the most victims to the virus.
The characteristics of how this virus attacks human body might be the reason for that phenomenon. Most of the patients suffering from coronavirus disease are having respiratory problems, which are already linked closely to breathing in poor air condition.
According to CDC, most of coronavirus symptoms are similar to common flu or common pneumonia, which are common respiratory diseases found in places with poor air condition. Symptoms such as cough, difficulty breathing, sore throat, and congestion can be linked to all of those 3 mentioned diseases.
Coronavirus is dealing bigger blow than those two mentioned earlier, and may lead to even death. But experts are still not too confident to mention the relationship, especially to the death rate. However, we already know that flu and pneumonia symptoms are usually worse and occur more often in places with poor air condition.
With almost similar symptoms but worse, and how those diseases are linked closely to air condition, we can say that air condition can be linked to worse coronavirus attack. “We don’t have the evidence linking directly to mortality yet, but we know if you are exposed to air pollution you are increasing your chances of being more severely affected,” said Dr María Neira, WHO’s director of public health.
Big Cities More Impacted
Big cities are usually also the most polluted cities. Take for example New Delhi in India, Hubei province in China which is where Wuhan is located, and northern Italy as mentioned above. All those places are also the cities with high mortality rate linked with coronavirus in the country.
In addition to that, those 3 places mentioned are the ones most ‘purified’ by coronavirus outbreak. Lockdowns in those places resulted in dramatic air quality increase and also as dramatic reduction of air pollution at the same time.
A slight pause of economic air-polluting activities in those regions due to lockdowns is showing greater results than expected. “We may soon learn how much of an impact this temporary pause in pollution has had on human health and the environment,” said Ryan Stauffer, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
NASA indeed has been collecting data of nitrogen compounds to monitor places all around the world, and during this coronavirus outbreak, this data can be a useful one to predict what will happen next. “The clearest takeaway from this event is how satellite measurements of nitrogen compounds can be used as an indicator of economic activity,” Stauffer mentioned.
And data sure showed that lockdowns due to coronavirus pandemic has contributed to significant drop of air pollution, including levels of PM2.5 nitrate. Will this bless in disguise last longer than the coronavirus outbreak, and lead us to better life in the future? Experts said that it highly depends on future us.
Looser Regulation Means More Re-Pollution
Air-quality data collected during coronavirus lockdowns has proven that most of our daily economic activities are air-polluting. Data showed with decreasing activities in world’s most polluted cities, it has successfully reduced deadly air particulate matters by 60%.
Air pollution itself has been more deadly than coronavirus. While coronavirus has affected more than 7 million people up to nowadays, and killed about 428 thousand people worldwide, air pollution has been killing about 7 million people worldwide every single year.
If we are worrying much about coronavirus, we should also worry about air pollution as much or even more. The problem is, in places where coronavirus attacks showed a decline, regulations are loosening, air-polluting economic activities are being practiced again, and air pollution level is rising back to what it used to be.
We are in too deep with our denials toward air pollution effects to our lives. Loosening regulations is not the best choice to be done because it demands no change to our previous air-polluting habits. Further, it means that this coronavirus outbreak may not give us any lessons if we just do what we used to do without any betterment.
We need a completely new view and breakthrough from our old habits instead of just doing the same thing all over again. Our old habits have been killing 7 million people worldwide regularly, and even though coronavirus is declared as deadly, the numbers show that this condition is still far from our old ‘normal’.
Dying Without The Virus
Coronavirus outbreak all over the world has been directly linked to less air pollution. However, it is some kind of extreme lesson we need to fight a bigger monster which is air pollution. We all indeed long for our normal life, but we have been too carried with our normal life without realizing that more people are killed by it.
IQAir researchers said that we can actually maintain good air condition even after lockdowns are lifted and coronavirus has been eliminated. What we need are green deals with governments including using sustainable sources of energy generation, and starting a trend to use single-person modes of green transportation such as bicycles.
“In our recovery from the pandemic, it’s important that we strive to preserve the cleaner environment, which protects our health from another invisible killer, air pollution,” said IQAir’s marketing specialist Kelsey Duska.
“We hope that the urgency in tackling this global pandemic may be matched in addressing air pollution,” Duska said. We all want to be healthy whether coronavirus exists or not, and we already have the paths to reach it by using more green energy.
We absolutely need to breathe in clean air, and green energy offers that. We should not take the warning named coronavirus for granted, and starting from now we might need to forget our old air-polluting habits and start developing a ‘new normal’.