The Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns on Air Quality: A Systematic Review Study
The purpose of this article was to review the published literature and evaluate the association between air quality/air pollution and the lockdown/stay-at-home orders during COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to identify the various environmental factors, such as urban and rural air quality, which were affected by the lockdown during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
We searched PubMed (2000–2021) for eligible articles using the following: (1) Aerosol[Title/Abstract], AND (2) air quality[Title/Abstract] OR air pollution[Title/Abstract] AND (3) COVID-19[Title/Abstract]. A total of 39 articles were identified through the search conducted in PubMed. We first screened the title and the abstract of those 39 articles for eligibility. A total of 24 articles did not meet the eligibility criteria and were excluded based on the title and the abstract review. The 15 remaining articles were assessed in full text for eligibility and data extraction. After a full-text review, 3 articles were excluded. Finally, a total of 12 selected articles were confirmed for data extraction.
Among the 12 studies, 5 articles focused on the effect of the air pollution, fine particulate matter, and air pollutants of COVID-19 pandemic’s lockdown, while 1 article targeted the relationship between the weather/air quality and COVID-19 death rate during lockdown. In addition, 5 papers focused on the association between the environmental factors, air pollution and air quality and COVID-19 mortality rate. Finally, 1 research study paper aimed to study the COVID-19 positivity rate and the effect of air quality during the stay-at-home order or the lockdown which was occurred in March 2020. It is important to note that it has been found that an increase in the average PM2.5 concentration was correlated with a relative increase in the COVID-19 test positivity rate. This explains the increase in the number of COVID cases during the period of the wildfire smoke from August to October 2020 (1).
The findings indicate that the COVID-19 lockdown has significant impact on the air quality across the world. The lockdown significantly reduces the air pollutants such as NO2, CO, O3 and Particulate Matter PM2.5 and PM10. This reduction led to a much healthier and safer outdoor air and hence improved the air quality during the lockdown/stay-at-home orders. More research is needed to validate that the air pollutants (NO2, CO, O3, PM2.5 and PM10) have a significant impact on the COVID-19 mortality and fatality rates.
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