Air quality changes in NE Romania during the first Covid 19 pandemic wave

Heliyon. 2023 Aug 9;9(8):e18918. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e18918. eCollection 2023 Aug.


This study analyzes for the first time uniformly and causally the level of pollution and air quality for the NE-Romania Region, one of the poorest region in the European Union. Knowing the level of pollution and air quality in this region, which can be taken as a benchmark due to its positional and economic-geographical attributes, responds to current scientific and practical needs. The study uses an hourly database (for five pollutants and five climate elements), from 2009 to 2020, from 19 air quality monitoring stations in northeastern Romania. Pollutant levels were statistically and graphically/cartographically modeled for the entire 2009-2020 interval on the distributive-spatial and regime, temporal component. Inter-station differences and similarities were analyzed causally. Taking advantage of the emergency measures between March 16 and May 14, 2020, we observed the impact of the event on the regional air quality in northeastern Romania. During the emergency period, the metropolitan area of Suceava (with over 100,000 inhabitants) was quarantined, which allowed us to analyze the impact of the quarantine period on the local air quality. We found that, in this region, air quality falls into class I (for NO2, SO2 and CO), II for O3 and III for PM10. During the lockdown periods NO2 and SO2 decreased for the entire region by 8.6 and 14.3%, respectively, and in Suceava by 13.9 and 40.1%, respectively. The causes of the reduction were anthropogenic in nature.

Keywords: Air quality; Atmospheric pollution; Covid-19 outbreak; Meteorology.