Environment Canada compared data from March 18 to 24 and March 25 to 31 from 2019 to this year and noted a ‘strong correlation’ between the decrease of Nitrous Oxide (NO2), particulate matter 2.5 and ozone — the three elements that make up the Air Quality Health Index — and the pandemic. (Kendra Crighton/Victoria News Staff)

‘Strong correlation’ between pandemic and 40-50 per cent drop in pollutants on Island

Nitrous Oxide, particulate matter 2.5, ozone have decreased significantly, says Environment Canada

Preliminary studies by Environment Canada show a 40 to 50 per cent decrease in pollutants around the Island when compared pre and post pandemic.

Armel Castellan, meteorologist, and his colleagues at Environment Canada compared data from March 18 to 24 and March 25 to 31 from 2019 to this year and noted a “strong correlation” between the decrease of Nitrous Oxide (NO2), particulate matter 2.5 and ozone — the three elements that make up the Air Quality Health Index — and the pandemic.

He notes a big factor in the decrease is the “huge reduction in emissions” from planes and vehicles since social distancing regulations came into effect. He says another piece of the puzzle comes from the open burning restrictions that have been issued across the province in an effort to clear the air and protect residents from COVID-19.

READ ALSO: More older Canadians die as COVID-19 toll passes 800; economy could shrink 6.2%

“I’ve noticed even from Victoria, you’re able to see Mount Rainier,” says Castellan. “That’s one kind of anecdotal but very important metric when you’re able to see things you don’t normally see as well.”

David Atkinson, professor of geography at the University of Victoria, says that while you may be able to see further due to the clearer skies he doubts the pandemic will have any major effect on bigger picture pollution on the Island.

READ ALSO: Entangled humpback whale found dead on remote Vancouver Island beach

“The impact is very small because we don’t really have all that much of a pollution issue in general,” says Atkinson.

Although, he notes that in places with more significant issues of pollution — such as Hong Kong and northern Italy — there have been distinct drops in the emissions picked up on satellites, specifically NO2.

Atkinson says there are some lessons that could be learned from the pandemic that may have an impact long term on the Island, specifically the reduction of driving.

“I’ve noticed more people feeling comfortable getting out on their bikes, this might result in a bit of a permanent switch over,” he says, adding that organizations may now realize the scope of work that can be done remotely which will also have an impact on emission reduction.

“We’ve done the experiment now, instead of just talking about it, we were forced to try it out,” he says.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Saanich artist brightens pandemic with whimsical signs

Artist Anna Trelford decorates her fence with signs that riff on COVID-19 pandemic

Man who bound, murdered Langford teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Traffic redirected after crash on McKenzie Avenue

Saanich Police responded to Thursday evening collision

Tour de Victoria postpones 10th annual ride to 2021

Ride that draws more than 3,000 cyclists to Greater Victoria was set for August

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Stolen gargoyle returns to its perch on central Vancouver Island yard

Petey, a concrete gargoyle statue, was returned by Nanaimo RCMP after being found by city crew

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

Most Read