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Air pollution in city dropped by 28% during lockdown: Study

Air pollution in Bengaluru dropped by an average 28% during the Covid-19 lockdown, a study by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) has revealed. Measured as PM 2.5, the downward trend was confirmed by additional analysis of satellite data.

The analysis was completed by CREA on behalf of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA). GCHA and HEAL support Healthy Air Coalition Bengaluru, as part of a global health sector initiative for clean air in cities in 2030.

The coalition has set up a network of 30 air quality monitors across the city (in places frequented by groups most at risk from air pollution. Data for a 45-day period before the lockdown (February 8 to March 23) was compared with data from a 45-day period during the lockdown (March 25 to May 8) to gauge the impact of reduced economic activity and transport on air quality.

The reduction in pollution levels varied for locations across the city, ranging from the lowest cut of 14% at Halasuru hospital to the greatest cut at Bellandur lake, where pollution dropped by 75%.

Aishwarya Sudhir, the coalition coordinator, said: “It appears that pollution from PM 2.5 has been cut by more than a quarter on average. In some places, air quality has actually met WHO safe levels, possibly for the first time in two decades.”

In the wake of the findings, the coalition has written an open letter to the mayor, seeking a ‘healthy recovery’ that builds upon solutions such as the Yulu bikeshare system and electrification of transport.

“The recovery agenda should include a robust plan to implement active and sustainable transport with dedicated paths for walking and lanes for cycling, promotion of electric vehicles and the necessary infrastructure, a curb on burning of solid waste, and implementation of construction and debris laws,” the letter said.

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