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As Coronavirus Spreads, Air Pollution Plummets

More people are driving less and staying at home. The result is significant improvements in air quality in cities across the country.
April 2, 2020, 6am PDT | Camille Fink
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Frederick Dennstedt

The coronavirus pandemic has brought life to a standstill and a huge drop in car travel as many people stay at home. "A satellite that detects emissions in the atmosphere linked to cars and trucks shows huge declines in pollution over major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Chicago and Atlanta," report Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich.

Plumer and Popovich review maps of emissions from Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and New York showing significant decreases in nitrogen dioxide levels over the month of March.

In Los Angeles, traffic data also illustrates the drop in car travel and congestion. "On Wednesday at 8 a.m., traffic in the city was moving 53 percent faster than it usually does on a Wednesday morning, according to data from INRIX, a company that analyzes traffic data from vehicle and phone navigation systems. At 5 p.m., when the freeways are typically congested, traffic was moving 71 percent faster than usual."

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Published on Friday, March 27, 2020 in The New York Times
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