Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Substantial Decreases in NO2 Pollution Measured by Ground-Based Monitors in US Cities During COVID-19 Shutdowns from Reduced Transportation Volumes

Version 1 : Received: 26 November 2020 / Approved: 27 November 2020 / Online: 27 November 2020 (14:30:08 CET)

How to cite: Heintzelman, A.; Lulla, V.; Filippelli, G. Substantial Decreases in NO2 Pollution Measured by Ground-Based Monitors in US Cities During COVID-19 Shutdowns from Reduced Transportation Volumes. Preprints 2020, 2020110695 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202011.0695.v1). Heintzelman, A.; Lulla, V.; Filippelli, G. Substantial Decreases in NO2 Pollution Measured by Ground-Based Monitors in US Cities During COVID-19 Shutdowns from Reduced Transportation Volumes. Preprints 2020, 2020110695 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202011.0695.v1).

Abstract

The air pollutant NO2 is derived largely from transportation sources and is known to cause respiratory disease. A substantial reduction in transport and industrial processes around the globe from the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and subsequent pandemic resulted in sharp declines in emissions, including for NO2. Additionally, the COVID-19 disease that results from the coronavirus may present in its most severe form in those who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution. To explore these links, we compared ground-based NO2 sensor data from 11 US cities from a two-month window (March-April) over the previous five years versus the same window during 2020 shutdowns. NO2 declined roughly 12-41% in the 11 cities. This decreased coincided with a sharp drop in vehicular traffic from shutdown-related travel restrictions. To explore this link more closely, we gathered more detailed traffic count data in one city, Indianapolis, Indiana, and found a strong correlation between traffic counts/classification and vehicle miles travelled, and a moderate correlation between NO2 and traffic related data. This finding indicates that we can use such analysis in targeting reduction in pollutants like NO2 by examining and manipulating traffic patterns, thus potentially leading to more population-level health resilience in the future.

Subject Areas

COVID-19; NO2; Monitoring; traffic volume; urban; ground-based

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