It has been reported in the national press that more than 1,700 deaths in the Uk have been avoided in the past month due to lower air pollution during lockdown. The following is an extract from an email received by LOSRA on 30th April from Spelthorne Council's Principal Pollution Control Officer:
We have been starting to look at the impacts of lockdown on local air quality. Spelthorne’s Air Quality consultants, Ricardo, have been analysing the environmental impact of Covid19, which you can read here: https://airqualitynews.com/2020/03/31/ricardo-an-analysis-of-covid-19-lockdown-on-uk-local-air-pollution/.
We have been advised that the analysis for London Harlington will be in the right ball park for Spelthorne. It has been suggested to us by them that Spelthorne will be benefitting from 30-40 per cent reduction of nitrous oxides (NOx). Harlington is downwind of Heathrow so will be more impacted by reductions in airport operations. The Air Quality News website has a number of articles about local air quality during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As said before, weather is a massive factor in air quality. Until yesterday, the weather during lockdown has been warm and settled. This means that emissions do not disperse and hang around and build up in levels. At the start of lock down the wind direction was from the east and so we were getting long-range particulate pollution from Europe. Consequently, due to both these factors there have been a number of regional pollution incidents across Surrey/ the South East since lockdown started: e.g.
- Moderate levels of particles and ozone in late April 2020 (22/04/2020 to 27/04/2020) – this episode was caused by sustained, hot, calm weather preventing dispersion of pollution;
- Moderate levels of particles (PM10 and PM2.5) and ozone during mid-April 2020 (05/04/2020 to 12/04/2020) – this episode was driven by air coming in from the near continent resulting in imported particulate pollution; and
- Moderate levels of particles (PM2.5) and ozone during late March 2020 (25/03/2020 to 27/03/2020) – this episode was also a result of easterly wind directions from Europe and wood burning emissions.
If you have the chance to remind your members about our AirAlert pollution episode alert service to assist those with heart and lung conditions, that would be much appreciated. People can sign up via:
Telephone: 01737 276 403