Belgian air quality has significantly improved since Saturday
Monday, 23 March 2020
Credit: Jules Johnston/The Brussels Times
Air quality in Belgium has greatly improved since Saturday, notes the Interregional Environment Unit (CELINE), which attributes the results to the measures imposed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) but also to favourable weather conditions.
Containment measures alone cannot explain the improvement in air quality. “Teleworking, temporary unemployment and travel restrictions certainly play a positive role, but it is difficult to quantify,” said CELINE spokesman Frans Fierens, who believes that the current weather conditions are also contributing to a reduction in atmospheric concentrations of pollutants.
“There is a lot of wind and we are under the influence of a clean air stream from Scandinavia. That plays a big role,” he adds.
In any case, there is less nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – a gas typically associated with road traffic – and fine particles in the air. “But it is difficult to determine whether this is a consequence of containment or weather,” Fierens insists.
While transport is the main sector responsible for air degradation, it is not the only one. Agriculture, industry and building heating also contribute. “As many people work at home and heat their homes, one would think that this has a negative effect, but it is very difficult to demonstrate this at the moment,” Fierens added.