Lockdown life in Wigan has much cleaner air
Nitrogen dioxide (No2) levels detected by the town’s monitoring station have fallen since residents were ordered to work from home.
Analysis by the BBC Shared Data Unit found the average daily reading for NO2 between March 17 and March 24 for Wigan was 16 micrograms per cubic metre.
This is a slight fall from the 16.8 average recorded over an equivalent eight-day period 12 months ago.
NO2 is released from car exhausts and is a major source of air pollution, which also contributes indirectly to the warming of the planet.
Further analysis of data from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) by the Wigan Post shows similar year-on-year drops for time periods throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Between March 15, the day after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK passed 1,000, and March 19 the average NO2 reading at the Wigan monitoring station was 12,4 micrograms per cubic metre.
This is a significant fall from the average of 17.3 recorded during the equivalent period last year.
Interestingly, in the days since lockdown measures were introduced higher daily averages of NO2 have been recorded in Wigan.
However, analysis shows that there is still a distinct drop in levels of the pollutant compared to this time last year.
Between March 20, when prime minister Boris Johnson ordered businesses such as restaurants, pubs and gyms to shut their doors, and March 25, the average NO2 reading at the town’s monitoring station was 19 micrograms per cubic metre.
In the equivalent period last year, by contrast, the average was 21.1.
Analysis of Defra air quality figures shows the severe restrictions on people’s movements have resulted in emissions falling in some city centres and towns.
However, some stations across the monitoring network have recorded higher levels of NO2 despite people being ordered to remain at home except for very limited reasons.
The Wigan monitoring station is located at The Deanery CE High School, a few hundred metres from the nearest roads Frog Lane and Parson’s Walk.
The council said it has been working to reduce emissions since last year and is looking at more ways to make the borough a greener place.
A spokesperson for the town hall said: “Since launching our climate change emergency last year, Wigan Council has made great strides in addressing the factors contributing to climate change and global warming locally.
“We’ve been working closely with Greater Manchester on the Clean Air Plan and locally we’ve been working with schools on anti-idling messages as we know this is a significant contributor to C02 emissions.
“Over the last six months, we have been working hard on our climate change strategy which includes the measures we will take as an organisation to reduce our carbon footprint. We’ll launch this later this year.”
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