The positive side of Coronavirus

Coronavirus Environmental impact

Most of us are likely feeling the effects of the Coronavirus outbreak that is sweeping across the world, be it nurses, doctors, civilians or entire governments. The areas of quarantine are increasing just as the number of infected people rises and it is very hard to have a positive outlook on the future when no one has any answers in regards to it. Well, scientists finally are reporting a positive change, albeit it might not be what we might expect.

Satellites are showing a substantial decrease on air pollution in Europe due to quarantine. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions have significantly decreased over Italy and other places like Madrid, Spain, following the lockdown caused by the spread of COVID-19.

“The coronavirus outbreak has seen widespread changes in human behaviour, encouraging companies to alter everyday operations by suggesting employees work from home, which is reducing congestion and enhancing air quality.”

According to NASA the same effect was first apparent near Wuhan, and eventually spread across China, were coronavirus started a few months ago. 

What are Nitrogen Oxides?

Nitrogen oxides are a group of seven gases and compounds composed of nitrogen and oxygen, sometimes collectively known as NOx gases.  The two most common and hazardous oxides of nitrogen are nitrous oxide (N2O) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas, is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

Nitrogen oxide pollution is emitted from vehicle exhaust, and the burning of coal, oil, diesel fuel, and natural gas, especially from electric power plants. They are also emitted by cigarettes, gas stoves, kerosene heaters, wood burning, and silos that contain silage.

Nitrogen oxides can create environmental health hazards when they react with sunlight and other chemicals to form smog. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide react with substances in the atmosphere to form acid rain.

Nitrogen dioxide is also used to produce rocket fuels and explosives.

Nitrous oxide is emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, and during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.  Additionally, it is used as an anesthetic.

What happens when I am exposed to Nitrogen Oxides?

Short-term exposure:
Health effects from breathing nitrogen oxides can include:

  • Irritation of the respiratory system, eyes, and skin
  • Aggravation of respiratory diseases, particularly asthma
  • Coughing and choking
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty breathing

Long-term exposure:
Long-term exposure to low levels of nitrogen dioxide can cause:

  • Asthma
  • Respiratory infections

Health effects from very high levels of nitrogen oxides can include:

  • Death
  • Genetic mutations
  • Harm to a developing fetus
  • Decreased female fertility
  • Spasms
  • Swelling of the throat
  • Rapid pulse 
  • Dilated heart

Font: Tox Town/nitrogen-oxides

Venice’s canal water goes clear after coronavirus lockdown!

It’s nice to see how when people step back nature follow its course and reestablish all ecosystem back to how should be.

Some 3.8 million premature deaths annually are attributed to outdoor (ambient) air pollution. About 80% of those deaths are due to heart disease and stroke, while another 20% are from respiratory illnesses and cancers related to exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the most health-harmful air pollutant.

Ground-level ozone, produced by the atmospheric interaction of a mix of air pollutants, including methane and NOx, is another health risk, raising rates of asthma and chronic respiratory illness as well as other sorts of breathing problems and reduced lung function. Ozone also reduces crop productivity in peri-urban areas, where ozone levels may often be heaviest.

World Health Organization

Find out your NO2 and air pollution exposure!