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Contributing Air Quality Data for the BBC's Traffic Report on Post-COVID Pollution Levels

BBC Air Quality Data Traffic Report on Post COVID Pollution Levels Roland Leigh

In a recent report by the BBC, the focus was on how traffic in the East Midlands has rebounded to pre-COVID levels. I am thrilled to share our involvement in providing key data and insights that shaped this coverage, shedding light on the intersection of traffic patterns and air quality.

The BBC's coverage, titled "Traffic in Region Returns to Pre-COVID Levels - Data," highlights that traffic levels have nearly returned to levels similar to 2019. However, our data supports that air pollution levels have remained lower and have not followed the same trajectory as traffic volumes.

EarthSense Providing the BBC with Air Quality Data

When the BBC approached us for our expertise and data, we were thrilled by the opportunity to contribute. At EarthSense, we operate a vast network of Zephyr® air quality sensors globally, measuring a range of pollutants including concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO₂), a key pollutant emitted by traditional fuel engines. Alongside real-time air quality monitoring, our extensive data collection includes our MappAir modelled® data available on the MyAir® air quality platform. This provides further insights into air quality data such as annual averages, providing a comprehensive view of pollution trends over time.

NO2 Annual Average Air Pollution Map during COVID

Key Findings on Pollution Trends

Our data showed that nitrogen dioxide levels fell significantly in 2020, aligning with the drastic reduction in vehicle miles travelled during the early months of the pandemic. Specifically, the average NO₂ levels in the East Midlands dropped from over 30 mg/m³ before the pandemic to the mid to low 20s during the lockdown period. However, the pollution levels did not rise significantly again as traffic levels rose. One of the most significant points I discussed with the BBC was the role of electric and hybrid vehicles in this potential pollution reduction.

Nitrogen Dioxide Pollution Monitoring levels against WHO guidelines

Commentary on Current Pollution Levels

As quoted in the BBC report, I emphasized how these levels have risen again as traffic returned. However, they have not reached pre-pandemic levels, this may be due to a noticeable shift towards electric and hybrid vehicles. This change has a profound impact on reducing transport emissions, especially in urban areas like those in the East Midlands. It indicates a positive trend towards cleaner air, underscoring the importance of continued efforts in adopting cleaner technologies including the continued investment through government funding. However, there is still a long way to go in our fight for cleaner air, although levels have not risen back to pre-COVID levels, we are still well above the WHO guidelines for NO₂ pollution. It is incredibly important that as we start to mitigate and reduce pollution we continue to work towards policies and regulations that reduce air pollution emissions.


Roland Leigh interviewed for BBC news post-COVID air pollution levels

We are proud to have insights into air quality which can help contribute towards the understanding and investigation into wider topics. EarthSense's contribution to the BBC's traffic and pollution report underscores our commitment to provide accurate and reliable air quality insights. And we are proud to provide data which helps inform the public and shape policies for a healthier environment. As we continue to offer solutions for air quality monitoring we are always happy to get involved in projects and discussions that use air quality data to strengthen insights and investigations. If you have a project in need of accurate and reliable air quality data make sure to get in touch.

For a detailed look at the BBC's coverage, you can read the original article here.

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