China sees rise in air pollution as lockdown ends

BEIJING: A recent study has revealed that levels of some air pollutants in China have risen back compared with the same period in 2019 after the government eased the strict lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are early warning signs that China’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is reversing air quality gains,” the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), which produced the study, said.
Ordinary levels of some air pollutants in China dropped in February to significantly below levels for the same period last year, as lockdown measures shuttered factories, curbed electricity demand and slashed transport use as swathes of the population stayed home.
However, average levels of some pollutants have since rebounded, and were higher in the 30 days ended 8th May compared with the same period in 2019, CREA said. “This was accurate of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and fine particulate matter, suggesting a rebound in industrial activity drove the trend,” CREA said.
Regions with factory clusters reported bigger increases in nitrogen dioxide emissions. Densely populated urban areas where emissions of the gas are mostly from vehicles, rather than factories or power plants showed smaller increases.
After months of lockdowns, China has gradually reopened its economy as the outbreak comes under control, although some cities have reimposed lockdown measures after reporting clusters of new coronavirus infections.
Overall passenger transport use in China remains lower year-on-year, but CREA said concerns about catching the coronavirus had led people to choose private cars over public transport.

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