A vulnerability-based approach to human-mobility reduction for countering COVID-19 transmission in London while considering local air quality

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Nov 1:741:140515. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140515. Epub 2020 Jun 25.


An ecologic analysis was conducted to explore the correlation between air pollution, and COVID-19 cases and fatality rates in London. The analysis demonstrated a strong correlation (R2 > 0.7) between increment in air pollution and an increase in the risk of COVID-19 transmission within London boroughs. Particularly, strong correlations (R2 > 0.72) between the risk of COVID-19 fatality and nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter pollution concentrations were found. Although this study assumed the same level of air pollution across a particular London borough, it demonstrates the possibility to employ air pollution as an indicator to rapidly identify the city's vulnerable regions. Such an approach can inform the decisions to suspend or reduce the operation of different public transport modes within a city. The methodology and learnings from the study can thus aid in public transport's response to COVID-19 outbreak by adopting different levels of human-mobility reduction strategies based on the vulnerability of a given region.

Keywords: Air pollution; COVID-19; Human mobility; Nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)); Particulate matter (PM(2.5)); Transport.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Cities
  • Coronavirus Infections*
  • Humans
  • London
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis
  • Pandemics*
  • Particulate Matter / analysis
  • Pneumonia, Viral*
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Nitrogen Dioxide