Pollutionwatch: lockdown is boosting air quality but we can do more

Gary Fuller
·1-min read
<span>Photograph: James Osmond Photography/Alamy</span>
Photograph: James Osmond Photography/Alamy

We are staying in to “flatten the curve”, cutting the peak Covid-19 demand on health services. An article in the British Medical Journal also urges us to “lower the baseline”, reducing other demands on health systems to allow resources to be focused on the epidemic. Examples include reduced speed limits, as introduced on the Isle of Man, while UK traffic is back at levels last seen in the 1950s and wider lockdown measures may have averted a serious smog at the end of March. But we should do more.

Residents of British Columbia have been told to stop outdoor fires. UK local councils are also urging people not to have bonfires to dispose of rubbish and recycling as they stay at home and get on with spring cleaning and tidying gardens. Bonfire smoke can enter homes of vulnerable people who have to stay indoors. Brighton and Hove council has also appealed for people to stop using fireplaces and stoves. UK data shows the continued impact of these on local air quality. With everyone at home, exposure to air pollution from these fires will be even greater than normal. So please, no bonfires or barbecues, and, unless it is your only source of heating, no fires or stoves.