Sunday, December 20, 2020

Potentially damaging surface ozone levels rose in lockdown


News Release 18-Dec-2020
Less traffic in first lockdown reduced air pollution but caused potentially damaging surface ozone levels to rise
University of York


Less traffic on the roads during the first lockdown led to a reduction in air pollution but may have caused potentially damaging surface ozone levels to rise, a new study has revealed.

The study - led by the University of York - shows levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) down on average across the UK by 42 per cent, but surface ozone (O3) increased by 11 per cent on average.

Surface, or ground-level ozone, can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma.

Scientists believe our warm and sunny spring weather may have been a contributing factor.

The report concludes that if the Covid-19 lockdown is taken as an example of how air quality will respond to future reductions in vehicle emissions - with more electric vehicles being introduced - it serves as a warning that the problem of O3 must also be considered.


The report says in China nitrogen oxide reductions have also led to increases in O3 and air quality abatement strategies are being developed in order to offset the problem. This can be achieved by controlling volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - which are gases emitted into the air from products or processes of industry and other man-made activity.

Professor Lee added: "Our research shows it will be vital to control man-made VOCs to avoid any health gains made by the reduction of NO2 being offset by O3 increases." 

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