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Published on Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Lockdowns lead to cleaner air quality in most countries

Covid lockdowns led to air quality improvements in most countries around the world, according to a new study.

IQAir's 2020 World Air Quality Report said emissions from industry and transport fell during lockdowns, with 84% of countries enjoying improved air quality.

"The connection between Covid-19 and air pollution has shone new light on the latter, especially as many locations have observed visibly cleaner air -- revealing that air quality improvements are possible with urgent, collective action," the report said.

IQAir looked at air quality in more than 100 countries, measuring PM 2.5 pollutants.

It found cities like Singapore and Bangkok showed significant improvements when they imposed 'circuit-breaker' movement restrictions.

However, it expects air pollution levels to rise again when business and travel gets back to pre-pandemic levels.

Asian cities continue to be the most polluted in the world with most found in either China or the Indian sub-continent.

Hotan in China's western Xinjiang region was the world's most polluted city, but the next 13 were all in India.

Wildfires were also a major contributor to high PM 2.5 levels with Los Angeles and Melbourne seeing the largest increase in PM 2.5 levels compared to 2019.

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