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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Explained: Here is why work from home could increase pollution in parts of UK, including London

As per a report, during the course of winter, air pollution, specifically emissions of nitrogen oxides are set to increase in the UK as a result of people spending more time working from their homes.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 31, 2020 12:19:06 pm
work from home, work from home covid-19, work from home pollution, wfh pollution link, express explainedIn London alone, as more people work from home during this winter, ECIU predicts that nitrogen oxide emissions from boilers can go up by about 56 per cent. (File)

As per a new report released by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), some areas in the UK could experience greater levels of air pollution due to large numbers of people working from home due to the pandemic this winter season.

As per the report, during the course of winter, air pollution, specifically emissions of nitrogen oxides are set to increase in the UK as a result of people spending more time working from their homes and using gas boilers for heating purposes. These additional nitrogen oxide emissions will be roughly equivalent to canceling out two years’ of gains incurred as a result of traffic pollution measures.

What’s the reason for this?

The report says gas combustion in buildings from cookers and boilers is a major source of local air pollution and accounts for roughly 21 per cent of nitrogen oxides emissions across the Greater London area for instance. As a result of this increased energy use, ECIU analysis suggests that urban air quality will worsen, with nitrogen oxide emissions increasing by approximately 12 per cent in some UK towns and cities. 📣 Follow Express Explained on Telegram

In London alone, as more people work from home during this winter, ECIU predicts that nitrogen oxide emissions from boilers can go up by about 56 per cent.

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Have similar trends been predicted for India?

The information in the ECIU report is meant for areas in the UK only. However, as per the State of Global Air report 2020, which is published by the US based Health Effects Institute, India’s population has the third highest exposure to PM 2.5, one of the most harmful pollutants for human health. These pollutants, which are one-thirteenth the width of a strand of hair are capable of entering the bloodstream or embedding themselves into the lungs and can cause illnesses such as stroke, lung cancer and heart disease.

When the government-mandated lockdown began at the end of March in India, air quality improved significantly in some areas throughout the country. According to an analysis of pollution trends in India published by the World Bank in August, while the COVID-19 lockdown brought unexpected relief from poor air quality in India, air quality trends have been improving in the country since 2018, with there being fewer number of days when air quality concentrations violated the daily national standard for PM 2.5 in 2019 when compared to 2018.

Even so, in winters air pollution rises in Delhi and the Indo-Gangetic plains. This is because of several factors including weather and local conditions, changes in wind speed and vehicular emissions.

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