Effect of Road Traffic on Air Pollution. Experimental Evidence from COVID-19 Lockdown
Environmental effects of industries and plants
Renewable energy sources
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AbstractThe increasing concentration of human activities in cities has been leading to a worsening in air quality, thus negatively affecting the lives and health of humans living in urban contexts. Transport is one of the main sources of pollution in such environments. Several local authorities have therefore implemented strict traffic-restriction measures. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness and limitations of these interventions, by analyzing the relationship between traffic flows and air quality. The used dataset contains concentrations of NO, NO<sub>2</sub>, NOx and PM<sub>10</sub>, vehicle counts and meteorology, all collected during the COVID-19 lockdown in the city of Padova (Italy), in which severe limitations to contain the spread of the virus simulated long and large-scale traffic restrictions in normal conditions. In particular, statistical tests, correlation analyses and multivariate linear regression models were applied to non-rainy days in 2020, 2018 and 2017, in order to isolate the effect of traffic. Analysis indicated that vehicle flows significantly affect NO, NO<sub>2</sub>, and NOx concentrations, although no evidence of a relationship between traffic and PM<sub>10</sub> was highlighted. According to this perspective, measures to limit traffic flows seem to be effective in improving air quality only in terms of reducing nitrogen oxide.