Impact of COVID-19 Lockdown on Ambient Air Quality in the Southwest Coastal Urban Regions of India

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


The rapid growth of urban areas and population as well as associated development over recent decades have been a major factor controlling ambient air quality of the urban environment in Kerala (India). Being located at the southwestern fringe of the Indian peninsula, Kerala is one of the regions that has been significantly influenced by the activities in the Indian Ocean. The present study focuses on the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown (in 2021) on ambient air quality in the selected coastal metropolitan areas of Kerala. Although previous research studies reported improvement in ambient air quality in Kerala during the lockdown period, this study demonstrates the potential of onshore transport of air pollutants in controlling the air quality of coastal urban regions during the lockdown period. Data from the ambient air quality monitoring stations of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board in the urban areas of Thiruvananthapuram (TM), Kollam (KL), Kozhikode (KZ), and Kannur (KN) are used for the analysis. Temporal variation in the concentration of air pollutants during the pre-lockdown (PRLD), lockdown (LD), and post-lockdown (PTLD) periods (i.e., 1 March to 31 July) of 2021 is examined to assess the effect of lockdown measures on the National Air Quality Index (AQI). Results indicate a significant decline in the levels of air pollutants and subsequent improvement in air quality in the coastal urban areas. All the effect of lockdown measures has been evident in the AQI, an increase in the concentration of different pollutants including CO, SO2, and NH3 during the LD period suggests contributions from multiple sources including onshore transport due to marine traffic and transboundary transport.

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Aerosol Science and Engineering