COVID-19 Outbreak Reduced Pollution

The coronavirus recent outbreak shut most businesses, quarantined people in their homes and closed boarders between continents. The latest evident indicated that the pollution, CO2, and NO2 emission level reduced to 40% as many are locked down to avoid the spread of the virus (“Coronavirus pandemic leading to huge drop in air pollution | Environment | The Guardian,” n.d.). The reports from China, South Korea, Europe and the USA showed that the NO2 “a toxic gas which causes significant inflammation of the airways” has reduced to 10-30% than normal. The Guardian posted several illustrations of satellite images to prove how the outbreak slashed the world pollution.

Pollution levels in China in 2019, left, and 2020.
Source: Guardian Visuals / ESA satellite data.jpg

WHO said that the pollution from cars engines and power plants increased the NO2 which is a vector for pathogens and many health problems. The World Health Organization is also investigating whether the increasing in pollution has a major impact that made the COVID-19 more virulent.

Other experts explained that it’s too early to confirm that the lockdown and the dropping of air pollution will offset the mortality of COVID-19 or any future health problems(“expert reaction to drop in air pollution because of COVID-19 | Science Media Centre,” n.d.). But these data show how the future will be if we reduced the use of cars and used modern technology, experts say. In the UK, there is the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH)That monitors the ammonia but the monitoring of our carbon dioxide is placed in central London to track the emission. It only shows that there are only a few attempts to track future health problems by non-profit organizations while we need considerable action in this manner.

NO2 pollution before and after the outbreak of COVID-19 in France
NO2 pollution before and after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Italy

It is a known fact that developed countries produced a large amount of pollution as the industry is wider. The authority’s restrictions and curfews during the virus outbreak caused a dramatic improvement in air quality from the same time one year ago and in the past few weeks (Todorović, n.d.). Therefore, the air becomes cleaner above large cities and regions that heavily loaded with factories and power plants. Cities like Milan, Paris, and Madrid that have been hit hardly by the infectious disease showed a huge drop in NO2 as the economy and transportation activities at a bare minimum due to the government restriction to limit the spread of COVID-19. The statistics showed that people are 84% likely to die in areas with higher air pollution than other especially those with chronic diseases.

Healthy Cities

When we discuss diseases and factors that affect humans, we cannot isolate architecture and the built environment. Over the years, architecture has been one of the most growing elements in the cities and any country development is measured by it, the fact that most countries are proud of the development and the rapid growth of their businesses. Healthy cities are continually creating and enhancing the physical activities and social environments that to expand resources that enable people to support each other and maximizing their potential. WHO listed the aims of a healthy city:

  • To create a health-supportive environment
  • To achieve a good quality air
  • To provide basic sanitation and hygiene needs
  • To supply access to health care

That being said, it is essential to provide good infrastructure to achieve this level of a healthy city rather than focusing on improving the political, economic and social arenas(“WHO | Healthy Cities,” 2019)

Galway Healthy Cities, which has been a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Healthy Cities since 2006, aims to establish an effective program that puts the health and social-economic and political agenda of all agencies. One of their main themes is to strengthen communities by building supportive healthy urban planning and design that includes housing and regeneration and so on(Galway Healthy Cities Projects, 2018). Although the organization’s main aim is Galway City, it purposes an initiative framework that helps designers to promote urban planning and tackling public health priorities.

The research of (Davies & Kelly, 2014) highlighted the importance of healthy cities and the need for multiple instruments to evaluate the strategies, the research also talked about the qualitative non-oriented approaches to evaluate the outcome. It was until the nineteenth century that realizes how important the provision of roads, housing and water supplies and the focus of medical attention in a modern way; the rapid industrial revolution and urbanization that resulted in human factory waster and pollution.