Health impacts
15 May 2020
Air pollutants
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
Publications and Scientific Resources

Air pollution reduction and mortality benefit during the COVID-19 outbreak in China

This article investigates the links between air pollution levels and avoided cause-specific deaths during the COVID-19 outbreak in China

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic, China has implemented unprecedented measures to combat the spread of the virus, aiming to reduce traffic and isolate populations. These measures have contributed to a significant reduction in pollutant emissions, particularly those related to transport and industry.


In this paper, the researchers try to assess the consequences of this phenomenon, highlighting the number of deaths resulting from specific causes that they believe would have been avoided as a result of the low pollution levels. They chose to focus on the study of concentrations of NO2 and PM2.5, two traffic-related air pollutants that would have been particularly impacted by traffic bans and containment. 


While their results remain exploratory, the scientists believe that the measures taken to contain the VIDOC-19 epidemic would have improved air quality and therefore contributed to a reduction in the number of non-pandemic-related deaths over the period. 


Authors: Kai Chen, Paul T Anastas (Yale School of Public Health); Meng Wang, Conghong Huang (University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions); Patrick L Kinney (Boston University School of Public Health)