Has COVID-19 helped improve Nashville’s air quality?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In other parts of the world such as China, you can see a huge difference in industrial and automobile pollutants from January into February when they went into quarantine.

Courtesy of NASA
Nitrogen dioxide, a noxious gas emitted by motor vehicles, power plants, and industrial facilities

And in northern India in the industrialized valley south of the Himalayas the difference between this time last year and 2020 stands out, as well.

Aerosols in industrialized northern India

But what about here in Nashville? Have fewer cars on the roads and less industrialization improved our air quality?

Downtown Nashville April 24, 2020

Brian Todd, spokesman for the Metro Health Department says yes, when comparing the air quality numbers from a year ago.

“We have noticed a drop in some of the air pollutants”, Todd explained. “For instance, ozone is down 12 percent during that time. Nitrogen Oxide is down by 17 percent, and fine particulate, which comes out of vehicle exhaust potentially is also down by 12 percent.”

He says that the difference would be higher in the summer months.

“But if you look at now, as compared to July and August when we don’t have as much rain, not as many fronts moving through and pushing the air, out as well as higher temperatures and more sunlight,” Todd remarked, “If this was happening in July or August we would likely see a much bigger change in our air quality.”

With state parks re-opening and people getting some fresh air while still social distancing, we can at least, for now, enjoy cleaner air. Now, if we could just do something about that pollen count!

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


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