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According to a paper by scientists at Nainital’s Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), pollution increased in portions of central-western and northern India while it decreased in most other parts of the country due to the pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020.

The data for the report comes from satellite observations for the years 2018, 2019, and 2020. It discovered the impact of the large reduction in activity on changes in ozone, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) distribution during the lockdown. Ozone, carbon monoxide, and NO2 levels increased by roughly 15% in the central-western area of India, according to the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research. During the lockdown, carbon monoxide levels increased consistently, reaching as high as 31% at higher altitudes.

According to a statement released by the Union science and technology ministry on Monday, experts discovered that locations in the country’s central-western region and north India are more susceptible to air pollution and so face a higher risk of respiratory issues.

“In 2020, India was placed under a comprehensive statewide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus illness. The economy was massively disrupted, with only one beneficial side effect: a short-term improvement in air quality near the surface,” according to the government. It cited satellite-based observations of ozone, NO2, and carbon monoxide near the surface and in the free troposphere as evidence of pollution reductions over India. However, locations such as western-central India, parts of northern India, and the isolated Himalaya have seen an increase in ozone and other hazardous chemicals. According to the ministry, this could have increased respiratory health risks in certain areas during the epidemic.

Long-range transfer and downward transport from the stratosphere raised ozone concentrations considerably across north India during the shutdown, according to the study. It went on to say that the Himalayas and coastal cities had the tiniest impact on air quality due to the closure.

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