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Air pollution falls 64% in Barcelona in March, study shows

Home confinement during the state of the alarm leads to “noticeable” drop in contamination

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02 April 2020 05:12 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

With a state of alarm in place across Catalonia and Spain, people are working from home when essential, most businesses have been temporarily closed, and as a result, mobility is massively reduced across the country. 

Among the various consequences of this, is the fact that air pollution has fallen dramatically in Barcelona. For the month of March, contamination is down 64%, one study shows. 

The report was carried out by the group Ecologists in Action, and is entitled ‘Effects of the Covid-19 crisis on urban air quality in Spain,' and has measured pollution levels in 24 cities across Spain. 

On average, contamination is down 55% across Spain. The low emissions zone in Barcelona, brought into effect at the beginning of the year, also contributed to the cleaner air in the Catalan capital. 

The report analyzes the official data of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) collected in 125 measuring stations in cities across Spain during the month of March 2020, and over the previous ten years. It therefore presents a still picture of urban air quality in the last month, before and after the declaration of the state of alarm which brought in the confinement measures.

Added to this, NO2 levels in Barcelona during the first week of the alarm status reduced by an average of 60% daily, according to a report published by the Barcelona Public Health Agency. 

The study compares the data obtained from March 14 - the first day of the state of alarm - with the daily type profiles recorded in 2020. 

An even bigger decrease was observed the following weekend, a reduction of -76% on Sunday, March 23, and -68% the day before.

Meanwhile, nitrogen dioxide air pollution in the Catalan capital decreased by 80%-90%. Government spokesman Meritxell Budó noted the drop in contamination in a press conference last Thursday, describing the decline as "especially noticeable." 

She said nitrogen dioxide is a pollutant "strongly associated with traffic and mobility."

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  • Catalan police performing traffic control checks on a road in southern Catalonia during the state of alarm brought on by the coronavirus crisis (by Salvador Miret)

  • Catalan police performing traffic control checks on a road in southern Catalonia during the state of alarm brought on by the coronavirus crisis (by Salvador Miret)

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