Coronavirus contributing to decreased pollution

Published: Mar. 10, 2020 at 5:27 PM CDT
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As concerns grow over the spread of the coronavirus, people are traveling less and in China, many factories have slowed down. This has had a positive impact on air pollution that we could see in the U.S.

NASA and European Space Agency announced significant decreases in harmful emissions of fossil fuels over China. The economic slowdown following the outbreak of the coronavirus partly contributing to cleaner skies.

Air quality experts in North Dakota say it's likely, if conditions continue the way they are, we will see a similar environmental pattern.

People are postponing trips.

"I would cancel because I'd rather not get it and spread it to others," said Bismarck resident Rory Bailey.

And staying home from work.

"Generally, when things become slowed down, a lot of times will slow it down, vehicles stop going, less people out and about, less air pollution," said environmental scientist Rheanna Kautzman.

According to NASA the slowdown contributed to a 30% decrease in nitrogen dioxide -- a noxious gas emitted by vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities -- in China.

Experts say the U.S. is headed in the same direction.

"I would expect that we'll see a bit of a drop because of less people on the road, less vehicles, trucks bringing products to and from different areas of the country," said Kautzman.

North Dakota is in attainment for all of the national ambient air quality standards EPA sets for clean air.

Meaning, the decrease in pollution won't be as noticeably significant.

"Very much akin to if you have a really messy room and you do a really big clean of your room, it's going to look great. But, if you maintain a really clean room and house and maintance level, you're not going to see a big difference day to day," said Kautzman.

Kautzman says she expects a short term decrease of pollutants, but a long term rebound and stabilization.

According to the World Health Organization, outdoor pollution is a major cause of death and disease globally.

A decrease in pollution could mean a decrease in health risks.