Efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 in China hinged on severe restrictions to human movement starting 23 January 2020 in Wuhan and subsequently to other provinces. Here, we quantify the ancillary impacts on air pollution and human health using inverse emissions estimates based on multiple satellite observations. We find that Chinese NOx emissions were reduced by 36% from early January to mid-February, with more than 80% of reductions occurring after their respective lockdown in most provinces. The reduced precursor emissions increased surface ozone by up to 16 ppb over northern China but decreased PM2.5 by up to 23 μg m−3 nationwide. Changes in human exposure are associated with about 2,100 more ozone-related and at least 60,000 fewer PM2.5-related morbidity incidences, primarily from asthma cases, thereby augmenting efforts to reduce hospital admissions and alleviate negative impacts from potential delayed treatments.
Miyazaki, K., Bowman, K., Sekiya, T., Jiang, Z., Chen, X., Eskes, H., et al.. Air quality response in China linked to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown
Journal: Geophysical Research Letters, Volume: 47, Year: 2020, First page: e2020GL089252, doi: 10.1029/2020GL089252