‘Air pollution went up in parts of India during lockdown’

BENGALURU: Reduction of economic activities during the pandemic-related lockdown had resulted in decrease of air pollution in most parts of India, but satellite observations show that parts of India showed an increase in pollution in contrast to the general trend.

Scientists from the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) have identified that regions in the central-western part of India and north India are prone to higher air pollution exposure based on state-of-the-art satellite observations and hence are exposed to greater risk of respiratory problems.

ARIES said while satellite-based observation of toxic trace gases — ozone, nitrogen-di-oxide and carbon monoxide — near the surface and in the free troposphere mostly showed a reduction of the pollutants over India, an increase of ozone and other toxic gases was observed in western-central India, parts of northern India, and remote Himalaya. “This could have aggravated respiratory health risks around those regions during the pandemic,” one of the scientists said.

The study shows that Carbon monoxide showed a consistent increase — 31% — of concentration at higher heights during the lockdown.