Satellite images show how pollution in Buenos Aires fell due to quarantine

A report by the Environmental Protection Agency (APrA) of the City of Buenos Aires revealed that during the first days of social isolation (from March 20 to 25), the polluting particles in the city’s air were cut in half.

Now, the satellite images obtained by the Sentinel-5P of the European Space Agency (ESA) add a data: they show the “Disappearance” of these pollutants since the impact of transport, economic activity and human beings in general in the city was reduced.

The concentration of nitrogen dioxide over Buenos Aires before quarantine (Photo: CONAE)

The National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE) produced maps that graph the decrease of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the metropolitan area from the beginning of the quarantine.

The concentration of nitrogen dioxide over Buenos Aires during quarantine (Photo: CONAE)
The concentration of nitrogen dioxide over Buenos Aires during quarantine (Photo: CONAE)

The presence of NO2 in the environment is measured because it is directly related to the vehicular and air traffic. “This pollutant generates health impacts at the level of the respiratory system and is also related to global warming,” explains María Fernanda García Ferreyra, expert in Air Quality at Conae.

On the maps, the brown areas indicate a greater presence of NO2 over the capital and the suburbs between March 13 and 16 (prior to the mandatory quarantine) and a drastic decrease in the following days (from March 20 to 23 ).

A cleaner world

Buenos Aires is just one of the many places in the world where air benefits with the absence of the human being and his habitual activities. In China, for example, from December 20 to March 16, a period of confinement, carbon dioxide emissions fell 25%. In Europe, images from the same satellite showed a similar result.

Quantity and quality

García Ferreyra warns: “The satellite information gives us an overview of the spatial distribution of the pollutants, but not of their concentration on the surface.” To obtain this information, it is necessary to return to the measurements of the Apra.

In its reports it is stated that “the values ​​of carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter 10 (mp / 10) decreased 50% in relation to the same period of 2019”.

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