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Short-term impacts of air pollutants in three megacities of India during COVID-19 lockdown

, Divyansh Sharma,

Abstract: Lockdown was imposed by the Indian government in the month of March 2020 as an early precaution to the COVID-19 pandemic which obstructed the socio-economic growth globally. The main aim of this study was to analyse the impact of lockdown (imposed in March and continued in April 2020) on the existing air quality in three megacities of India (Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata) by assessing the trends of PM10 and NO2 concentrations. A comparison of the percentage reduction in concentrations of lockdown period with respect to same period in year 2019 and pre-lockdown period (February 14–March 24) was made. It was observed from the study that an overall decrease of pollutant concentrations was in the ranges of 30–60% and 52–80% of PM10 and NO2, respectively, in the three cities during lockdown in comparison with previous year and pre-lockdown period. The overall decrease in concentrations of pollutants at urban sites was greater than the background sites. Highest decline in concentrations of PM10 were observed in Kolkata city, followed by Mumbai and Delhi, while decline in NO2 was highest in Mumbai. Results also highlighted that capital city Delhi had the worst air quality amongst three cities, with particulate matter (PM10) being the dominant pollutant. Although COVID-19 has significantly affected the human life considering the mortality and morbidity, lockdowns imposed to control the pandemic had significantly improved the air quality in the selected study locations, although for the short amount of period.
Keywords: PM10 / NO2 / Megacities / Trend analysis / India

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