Emissions

Air quality post-pandemic didn't improve as previously suspected

Roy Harrison, a researcher and professor at the University of Birmingham, UK, recently conducted a study to review the reductions in PM 2.5 and NO2 levels that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns over 11 cities. Harrison applied machine learning techniques to remove the effects of weather on the gaseous concentrations to see how the air quality had truly changed due to the lockdowns. 

Premature death from cross-state air pollution decreases from 53% to 41%

It’s widely known through the Air Quality Research Center that outdoor air pollution leads to untimely deaths throughout the world, however, a recent publication by Dr. Erwan Monier, Associate Professor of Climate Change Impacts in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, and associates demonstrated that many of these deaths are a result of cross-state air pollution. 

Coronavirus pandemic leading to huge drop in air pollution

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic earlier this month causing industries across the world to shutdown and workers to stay home to avoid further contamination and spreading of the virus. This emergency shutdown has lead to lower air pollution levels around the world. 

Experts are saying that this societal shutdown is creating one of the largest experiments in industrial emission reduction. NO2 levels over cities and industrial areas have decreased significantly in comparison to this same time in 2019. 

University of Leicester air pollution professor, Paul Monks, stated 

Map of U.S. Auto Emissions

More than 60% of transportation emissions come from passenger vehicles in the U.S. This makes personal transportation the largest source of greenhouse gases.  "Boston University’s emissions database, first published in 2015 and updated this month with an additional five years of data, reveals that much of the increase in driving-related CO2 has occurred in and around cities."

Take a look at your cities emissions and how they have changed over the years. 

Weaknesses in Benicia's Air Monitoring System discovered after Valero's march Pollution Release

In March, Valero's Benicial refinery spit out pollution which caused city officials to warn residents to stay indoors. The Bay Area Air Quality Monitoring District sent a van to monitor the situation because currently there is no stationary air quality monitoring device in the residential areas despite the fact that it's home to one of the largest refineries in California. 

As explained in the article "Valer's March Pollution Release Exposes Weaknesses in Benicia's Air Monitoring System" by Ted Goldberg: 

KQED: Valero's Benicia Refinery Now Target of Several Probes Into Pollution Releases

An article by Ted Goldberg of KQED News has looked into the release of a large unexpected plume of petroleum coke dust by Valero's Benicia refinery. The release had local fire officials encouraging people with respiratory problems to avoid activity outdoors. 

A partial shutdown of the facility resulted from this incident. This is considered the worst breakdown since a 2017 power outage.