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Pandemics, air quality and climate change

IEMA has been an increasingly frequent source of reports about the reduction of pollution in cities like São Paulo during the quarantine; epidemics may become more frequent if deforestation and climate change are perpetuated


The relationship between air quality and the reduction of social coexistence has been studied by scientists worldwide, and in Brazil it is no different. The Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEMA), for example, has been a constant source of reports about the subject. André Ferreira, for example, spoke to Mídia Ninja and the Folha de S. Paulo about an indication of the improvement of air quality in São Paulo, caused mainly by the reduction of the transport activity. According to him, there are countless lessons that can be learned about the public space during the crisis: “Less cars circulating generate less noise, a better respiratory health, less accidents, less persons being run over, and the death of fewer cyclists. It is a group of things that the frenzy of travel generates from data for the city,” he explained to Mídia Ninja. In Folha, André reports that emissions of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide have especially fallen, and there is less particulate matter. There are still no studies to confirm it, but experts suggest that the total reduction of pollutants in São Paulo could be from 30% to 50%, depending on the time of the social isolation caused by Covid-19.

Credit: Midia Ninja

The connection between sustainable cities and the pandemic was the subject of an article published on the Colabora website. The report quoted the associate professor of the Department of Epidemiology at the Institute of Social Medicine from the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Eduardo Faerstein. He declared that epidemics may become increasingly common with the perpetuation of deforestation and climate change. According to him, the change in agricultural frontiers allows contact between humans and previously uninhabited areas, where there are intermediate host animals and transmitters of new viruses. Climate change, on the other hand, increases the temperature and contributes to the proliferation of vectors such as mosquitoes. Following the principles established by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN is a path that would reduce the impact of epidemics – remembering that SDG 11 discusses sustainable cities.

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