Indians in Mumbai are getting a rare break from the constant irritation of pollution in their eyes and throats. For those suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments, it’s a blessing they couldn’t imagine. And it stems from the coronavirus pandemic.
The lockdowns ordered to combat the spread of the coronavirus in India’s megacities are keeping most cars off the road and closing factories, improving air quality and letting people see blue skies instead of heavy gray smog.
Last year, India accounted for around half of the world’s 50 most polluted cities, according to Swiss firm IQAir, with emissions caused partly by industry, vehicle exhaust and coal-fired plants.
New Delhi is the world’s most polluted capital city. The Air Quality Index typically sits around 160 in March, which is very unhealthy. This week, it sank to roughly 93, a level considered moderate.
Retired sea captain Francis Braganza, 74, said:
“We went for a walk and my wife found that breathing was easier.”
India isn’t the only country enjoying a break from pollution. Cities across China also report lower levels of smog, a condition confirmed by NASA satellites.
In Italy, the country hardest hit by the virus, the canals in Venice are clear enough to see fish, something that hasn’t happened in recent memory. The change isn’t due to less pollution, but dramatically reduced boat traffic, which has allowed the silt to settle on the bottom.