More than 800 lives may have been saved across Europe due to better air quality in the first phase of Covid lockdowns, new research suggests.
Measures brought in to stem the rise in infections led to far fewer cars and lorries on the roads, which had the biggest impact on reducing deaths, according to the study led by experts from the LondonSchool of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
Analysis of 47 European cities found Paris, London, Barcelona and Milan were among the top six with the highest number of avoided deaths.
The study noted that closing workplaces and schools in European cities reduced levels of air pollution through less traffic and movement, while public events were cancelled and people stayed at home.
This led to less nitrogen dioxide, or NO2 polluting the air, with Spanish, French and Italian cities seeing the biggest decreases in N02 of 50% to 60% during the period.
Although strong decreases in NO2 were found, levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) experienced a smaller drop seeing as they are also produced by natural sources (wildfires and dust) and other emissions.
Read more: Climate lockdowns anyone? Hundreds of lives saved by improved air quality during first ‘Covid’ lockdown as thousands (at least) died as a result of the lockdown.