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Social distancing, does it matter in boosting air quality?
10 Apr 2020 • Read : 1880 x ,

There is a slight difference in the air quality of Java after social distancing was implemented in the region. People were told to reduce their activities outside and were encouraged to do activities at home (work, study, and pray at home). It was done to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This was also emphasized by researcher of the Center for Atmospheric Science and Technology (PSTA) LAPAN, Nani Cholianawati, in her interview with El-Shinta radio station, Thursday April 4th 2020 with the topic “The Social Distancing Effect on Jakarta’s Air Quality and Other City in Java from Satellite Monitoring”.

Through the results of satellite monitoring, Nani compared the air quality of Jakarta and other cities on Java before and during social distancing. The results showed that the air quality in some cities is much cleaner. Nani further said that air quality is firmly related to the source of emissions. Pollutants could come from vehicle and factory emissions. Recent research indicates a link between poor air quality and the number of deaths due to COVID-19. This is related to the adverse effects of PM2.5 exposure on human health, especially respiratory diseases. Thus, people who live in big cities should be more vigilant by limiting outdoor activities and following the government’s advice to always use masks to do activities outside.

“…basically, the effect of the implementation of social distancing on air quality in Java, specifically the North Coast of Java is observed to decline, but there is an increase in the central and southern regions,” said Nani.

Source : NO2 in troposphere from OMI censor of AURA satellite with spatial resolution 0.25 degree and the track at the equator is around 13.30

Currently, the island of Java is still experiencing rainy season. And rain is a meteorological factor that plays an important role in washing pollutants. The rain improves air quality in some areas as shown in the figure which has a negative value (decrease).

Source: surface PM2.5 of HIMAWARI reanalysis and MASINGAR (JMA) with spatial resolution at 0.4 degree, and temporal resolution every hour

“…if we compare to previous years, the improvement in air quality has not yet seen a significance, which one is more dominant, is it rain or the implementation of social distancing?” said Nani Cholianawati.


Cover image source: The Jakarta Post.

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