New research from Stanford University found that the coronavirus quarantine in China probably saved thousands of lives thanks to reduced air pollution.

Data from U.S. government sensors were used to measure levels of particulate matter, PM 2.5, the main culprit of death from air pollution. Because of decreased factories, cars, and emissions during the quarantine, associated levels of particulate matter also declined.

Professor Marshall Burke wrote on G-Feed, “I calculate that having 2 months of 10ug/m3 reductions in PM2.5 likely has saved the lives of 4,000 kids under 5 and 73,000 adults over 70 in China.  Using even more conservative estimates of 10% reduction in mortality per 10ug change, I estimate 1400 under-5 lives saved and 51700 over-70 lives saved.  Even under these more conservative assumptions, the lives saved due to the pollution reductions are roughly 20x the number of lives that have been directly lost to the virus (based on March 8 estimates of 3100 Chinese COVID-19 deaths, taken from here). ”

He said that COVID-19 disruptions “suggests that our normal way of doing things might need disrupting.” This trend will likely take place in other areas as the quarantine spreads to Europe and the United States.

China has started releasing data on January and February air pollution in Hubei province. According to reporting by CNN from China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the number of “good quality air days,” increased by 21% on average in Hubei province.

NASA satellite images show reduced nitrogen oxide emissions over China’s major cities during January and February, the duration of coronavirus quarantines across the country. Nitrogen oxide emissions are released from cars, trucks, power plants, and industrial plants.

“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told CNN. “I am not surprised because many cities nationwide have taken measures to minimize the spread of the virus.”

A Tweet from the World Economic Forum showed the pollution over Wuhan, the epicenter of the China coronavirus outbreak:

Similar changes are shown in levels of carbon dioxide emissions in China. According to the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), carbon dioxide emissions were down at least 25% from February 2 to March 1. The equivalent savings is equal to 200 million tons of carbon dioxide, more than half of the total output of the United Kingdom.

Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at CREA, told CNN, ” As a measure that took place effectively overnight, this is more dramatic than anything else that I’ve seen in terms of the impact on emissions.”

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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