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Air Pollution: Nitrogen Dioxide Levels Fell By More Than 70 Per Cent During COVID-19 Lockdown In New Delhi, Says United Nations

According to the United Nations, while air pollution has fallen sharply during the COVID-19 lockdown imposed in countries to contain the spread of the virus, these environmental gains are expected to be temporary if economies reopen without policies in place that prevent air pollution

Air Pollution: Nitrogen Dioxide Levels Fell By More Than 70 Per Cent During COVID-19 Lockdown In New Delhi, Says United Nations
  • Studies suggest that poor air is correlated with higher COVID-19 morality
  • The pandemic has exposed inequalities in how people live in cities: UN
  • 24 per cent of the world's urban population live in slums: UN

United Nations: Levels of nitrogen dioxide fell by more than 70 per cent during the lockdown in New Delhi, a UN policy brief said on Tuesday, warning that the environmental gains could be temporary if the cities re-open without policies to prevent air pollution and promote decarbonisation. The UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief on ‘COVID-19 in an Urban World’ said that with an estimated 90 per cent of all reported COVID-19 cases, urban areas have become the epicentre of the pandemic.

Also Read: Air Pollution Affects Health Of 82.2 Per Cent People Out Of 1757: Survey

It also pointed out that several new scientific studies suggest that poor air quality is correlated with higher COVID-19 mortality rates. The size of their populations and their high level of global and local interconnectivity make them particularly vulnerable to the spread of the virus.

The brief said that while pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen sharply during the pandemic when countries halted their economies to contain the spread of the virus, these environmental gains are expected to be temporary if economies reopen without policies in place that prevent air pollution and promote decarbonisation.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide fell by more than 70 per cent during the lockdown in New Delhi (India), 40 per cent in urban areas in China, 20 per cent in Belgium and Germany, and 19–40 per cent in different areas of the US, the brief said.

A small increase in fine particulate matter has been associated with an 8 per cent increase and up to 21.4 per cent increase in death rates in the US and the Netherlands, respectively, it said.

New evidence also points to impacts on pregnant women and newborn babies as well as maternal mortality, particularly among populations already facing socio-economic stress due to marginalisation.

Also Read: Coronavirus Lockdown: As People Stay Home, Earth Turns Wilder And Cleaner

On COVID-19 outbreaks in informal settlements, the brief said that in Mumbai, as of mid-April 2020, 30 per cent of designated containment zones — which are areas with large outbreaks — were in slums, while 60 per cent were within 100 metres of an informal settlement, it said. In his message, UN chief Antonio Guterres said urban areas were ground zero of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 90 per cent of the reported cases.

Cities are bearing the brunt of the crisis – many with strained health systems, inadequate water and sanitation services, and other challenges. This is especially the case in poorer areas, where the pandemic has exposed deeply rooted inequalities. We must act with the same urgency and resolve to transform cities and address the climate and pollution crises. Now is the time to rethink and reshape the urban world, he said.

The brief said that recognising the differentiated exposure to risks and impacts, some governments have designed tailored measures for vulnerable groups. It cited the example of Pune where a collective of waste-pickers has been distributing gloves and masks to informal waste-pickers.

In many cities, informal waste-pickers make an important contribution to waste management but are at heightened risk during the pandemic without adequate protection, it said.

The brief noted that urban density does not inevitably correlate with higher virus transmission. Cities are largely vulnerable as a result of choices about how they are organised and how people live, work and travel in and around them. The pandemic has also exposed deep inequalities in how people live in cities, and how cities serve their residents.

Also Read: Amid Coronavirus Lockdown, Air Pollution Levels In North India Hit 20-year-Low: NASA

The already vulnerable have suffered most – 24 per cent of the world’s urban population live in slums and less than half the global population can access open public spaces within 400 metres’ walking distance of their homes. The UN chief said the policy brief recommends that there is a need to ensure that all phases of the pandemic response tackle inequalities and long-term development deficits and safeguard social cohesion.

We must prioritise those who are the most vulnerable in our cities, including guaranteeing safe shelter for all and emergency housing to those without homes, he said, adding that access to water and sanitation is also vital.

He said the inadequate state of public services in many cities requires urgent attention, particularly in informal settlements.

Nearly one-quarter of the world’s urban population lives in slums. Local governments are already taking action – from prohibiting evictions during the crisis to putting in place new clean water stations in the most vulnerable areas, the UN chief said.

There is a need also to strengthen the capacities of local governments and this requires decisive action – and deeper cooperation between local and national authorities, he said. “Stimulus packages and other relief should support tailored responses and boost local government capacity,” Mr. Guterres said. The brief also recommends that nations must pursue a green, resilient and inclusive economic recovery.

By focusing on high ecological transformation and job creation, stimulus packages can steer growth towards a low-carbon, resilient pathway and advance the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

Also Read: Coronavirus Lockdown: 88 Cities Continue To Record Minimal Air Pollution With Restrictions In Place

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 196 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 26,14,68,997 and 51,99,585 have died; 22,22,61,229 are active cases and 3,40,08,183 have recovered as on November 29, 2021 at 3:42 am.


3,45,72,523 8,774Cases
3,39,98,278 9,481Recovered
4,68,554 621Deaths
In India, there are 3,45,72,523 confirmed cases including 4,68,554 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,05,691 and 3,39,98,278 have recovered as on November 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

66,33,612 507

11,905 248

64,80,799 738

1,40,908 17


51,29,359 4,741

49,152 957

50,40,528 5,144

39,679 554


29,95,285 322

6,783 143

29,50,306 176

38,196 3

Tamil Nadu

27,24,731 740

8,382 36

26,79,895 765

36,454 11

Andhra Pradesh

20,72,446 248

2,158 5

20,55,856 253


Uttar Pradesh

17,10,373 5

86 5

16,87,377 9

22,910 1

West Bengal

16,14,152 701

7,820 27

15,86,882 717

19,450 11


14,40,834 27

290 11

14,15,448 37

25,096 1


10,48,492 264

2,222 6

10,37,864 255

8,406 3


10,06,733 27

326 7

9,92,814 20



9,54,741 26

187 13

9,45,599 13



8,27,382 28

291 17

8,16,999 45


Madhya Pradesh

7,93,120 23

112 9

7,82,480 14



7,71,654 11

159 1

7,61,441 10



7,26,212 3

39 6

7,16,510 9



6,75,479 160

3,545 11

6,67,946 148

3,988 1


6,16,435 123

2,720 71

6,07,624 189

6,091 5


6,03,190 17

313 22

5,86,284 39



3,49,216 20

109 0

3,43,967 20



3,44,183 14

150 6

3,36,626 8


Jammu And Kashmir

3,36,386 149

1,724 5

3,30,189 141

4,473 3

Himachal Pradesh

2,26,941 82

809 18

2,22,287 97

3,845 3


1,78,839 40

275 9

1,75,183 31



1,34,279 358

4,117 110

1,29,672 466

490 2


1,28,860 35

326 5

1,26,662 30



1,25,117 19

673 1

1,22,474 18

1,970 2


84,784 13

89 9

83,874 3

821 1


84,414 20

308 27

82,635 44

1,471 3


65,443 5

52 4

64,571 1


Arunachal Pradesh

55,269 9

37 4

54,952 5



32,211 4

114 5

31,694 9



32,100 4

135 1

31,269 5



21,494 27

249 6

21,032 21


Dadra And Nagar Haveli


1 0





28 1

10,315 1


Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,680 2

5 2



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