World, Environment, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Air pollution to rise again after coronavirus ends

'Awareness on environment, efficient use of resources should be raised to solve climate change issue,' says Huseyin Toros

Burak Bir   | 23.03.2020
Air pollution to rise again after coronavirus ends

ANKARA

Falling air pollution rates due to drops in industrial production, and transportation will rise again after the coronavirus threat disappears unless required measures are taken, according to an expert.

Suspension of numerous international flights, limitation of industrial production and many other measures to stem the spread of the virus known as COVID-19, such as quarantine and curfew have led to a decline in air pollution around the world, especially in China, as reports confirmed.

But experts warned that if necessary measures are not taken to keep the world's air at a safe level, and target the source of the pollution, the current progress most likely will not last long.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Huseyin Toros, an expert on atmospheric science and air quality at Istanbul Technical University, said if a vaccine for coronavirus could be found, and threat disappears, the same activities that pollute the atmosphere would immediately start again.

"When the coronavirus threat disappears, the negative effects of air pollution on climate, environment and human health will continue, as we will return to our old habits of the old days," he said.

Citing some reports of the World Health Organization (WHO) on 7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution, Toros stressed that this issue still does not draw enough attention, mostly because air pollution does not bring cause immediate deaths, unlike coronavirus or an earthquake does.

"We should continue to raise awareness on the environment, efficient use of resources, and transition to renewable energy sources, so that we can find solutions to climate change which will further intensify in the coming days," he stressed.

The coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 167 countries and territories, and declared a pandemic by the WHO.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 341,300 while the death toll has exceeded 14,700 and over 98,800 have recovered, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the rising number of cases, most who become infected suffer only mild symptoms and recover.

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