With most of the world locked indoors due to the self-imposed quarantine to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent negativity that was bound to happen as result of everyone stuck at home, there is one piece of good news: the air quality across the globe has improved drastically.
With global air quality improving, Toronto is no exception. Professor Greg Evans (Engineering, University of Toronto), together with his team at Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research, has been keeping track of air pollutant levels in downtown Toronto for more than 10 years. “Our goal is to assess the data we are collecting and use public health modelling to support public health management of infectious disease outbreaks,” said Professor Evans, by way of an explanation on how improved air quality could positively impact the fight against COVID-19.
As cities decongest, #UofTEngineering's Greg Evans is using this unprecedented time to study the effects of air quality on the spread of #COVID19 in downtown #Toronto 😷🏙💨: https://t.co/Oo8NQSz5fq pic.twitter.com/KAvvexRGEx
— U of T Engineering (@uoftengineering) April 9, 2020
Two major traffic-related air pollutants, nitrogen oxides and ultra-fine particles, have decreased in downtown Toronto to almost half the levels they were prior to the city-wide shutdown.
Professor Evans and his team unanimously agree that it is still to early to gauge whether the improved air quality can actually help in reducing hospitalization for those diagnosed with milder forms of the coronavirus infection. At this stage however, it is in the world’s best interests to ensure that we make an effort to further reduce emissions and their exposure.