Spain’s air pollution falls 55% during coronavirus crisis

Madrid's Paseo de la Castellana mid-March with no traffic as a result of coronavirus crisis. Photo: Jaime Villanueva / El País
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Air pollution across Spain fell by more than half in the last two weeks of March, with air contamination in Madrid and Barcelona following below levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the first time in a decade.

According to figures released by the environment NGO Ecologistas en Acción, the sharp decline in vehicle traffic due to measures introduced to reduce mobility and combat the spread of coronavirus, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions across 24 Spanish cities in the second half of March were down 55 percent.

Data released by the NGO showed that NO2 levels in Spain’s cities fell to the normal level as nitrogen dioxed usually found in rural areas and well below the maximum level recommended by the WHO.

► News Sources: El Diario, Público and Europa Press …

Spain’s two largest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, both with normally the highest pollution rates in the country, hit an historical low in emissions readings, with none of their air quality reporting stations exceeding the legally allowed limits for the first time since 2010.

The data released by Ecologistas covers the cities of Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Gijón, Oviedo, Palma, Las Palmas, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Santander, Valladolid, Barcelona, ​​Alicante, Valencia, A Coruña, Vigo, Madrid, Murcia, Pamplona, ​​Bilbao, Donostia and Vitoria. All combined, more than 13 million Spaniards live in the cities on which the report was based.

While lamenting the fact that it has taken the negative effects of the coronavirus crisis to prove the point, the NGO said nonetheless that the data clearly showed that “structural reduction of motorized traffic and changes in mobility patterns are the best tool to improve air quality in cities.”

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