Title: Reduced air pollution in Nicosia during lockdown. 

NICOSIA, June 2020 – Researchers of the Climate and Atmosphere Research Center (CARE-C) of the Cyprus Institute (www.cyi.ac.cy), with the contribution of the continuous monitoring of major pollutants performed by the Air Quality section of the Cyprus’ Department of Labour in the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance (www.airquality.gov.cy ), investigated air quality in Nicosia during lockdown. It was determined to what extent the decrease of traffic emissions has changed the concentration levels of air pollution in the urban environment. 

Preliminary results show that the unprecedented lockdown measures taken in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19) have triggered a major decrease of air pollution due to local traffic emissions in Nicosia. The researchers focused on two pollutants, carbon monoxide (CO), which is derived from the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels, including those from traffic and biomass burning, and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which come almost exclusively from fossil fuel use. Data were obtained in March, April and May 2020 and compared to those obtained for the same three months in 2019 from two sites. Measurements made close to a (usually) busy, traffic-heavy road in Nicosia (Nicosia Urban Traffic) demonstrated that CO and NOx levels decreased by 95 ppb (28%) and 13 ppb (57%), respectively, since the lockdown. Similarly, measurements made in the Nicosia urban background (i.e. a residential area of the Strovolos’ municipality, away from busy roads) indicated that CO and NOx levels decreased by 51 ppb (23%) and 11 ppb (67%), respectively, since the lockdown. Daily (24hr) averages for the two sites are reported in Figure 1.

Further to these preliminary findings, a more exhaustive evaluation of the air quality impacts of the lockdown will be performed considering a wider range of air pollutants (e.g. fine particles), remote sensing (satellite-borne) observations, and atmospheric modelling approaches. 

This work is supported by the AQ-SERVE (Air Quality Services for a Cleaner Air in Cyprus) project INTEGRATED/0916/0016, which is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research and Innovation Foundation.