The effect of COVID-19 on air pollution

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Dear Tom,
I have heard that COVID-19 lockdowns have caused cleaner air. How is this possible?

George Kalinka, Naperville

Dear George,
There has been a great reduction in air pollution worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. In northern India, for example, air pollution is at a 20-year low. Concentrations of fine particulate matter in New Delhi have fallen by more than 50 percent. In New York City and Los Angeles, as of January, concentrations are 25-30 percent lower than concentrations from the same month one year earlier.
The coronavirus pandemic has given us a glimpse of a clean air future, but at a terrible physical and economic cost to millions of people. We can hope for a clean air future achieved without this painful cost. Solutions exist and now is the time to start working to achieve them.

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