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Los Angeles air quality the best it’s been in decades, thanks to coronavirus

Coronavirus outbreak: Pandemic sees pollution levels drop around the world
WATCH: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel and commerce around the world have been brought to a halt, and that's led to a stark drop in pollution levels.

The environment continues to benefit from everyone staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The entire state of California is under stay-at-home orders in the hope of slowing down, or stopping altogether, the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

READ MORE: Clearing the air — Carbon emissions down amid coronavirus outbreak

With fewer cars on the road and people hunkering down, Los Angeles‘ air quality has never been better. In fact, right now it has some of the cleanest air of any major city.

A photo taken by Reuters photographer Lucy Nicholson shows clean Los Angeles skies on April 7. The downtown freeways are notably free of the city’s usual bumper-to-bumper traffic.

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Amid the coronavirus stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles, the city is notably free of the typical brown haze of smog.
Amid the coronavirus stay-at-home orders in Los Angeles, the city is notably free of the typical brown haze of smog. Reuters
The buildings of downtown Los Angeles are partially obscured in the afternoon on Nov. 5, 2019 as seen from near Pasadena, Calif.
The buildings of downtown Los Angeles are partially obscured in the afternoon on Nov. 5, 2019 as seen from near Pasadena, Calif. Getty Images

According to Swedish air quality technology company IQAir, Tuesday marked a historic time for L.A. air quality.

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United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data shows that in March this year, the L.A. area had its longest stretch of “good” air quality since 1995.

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A U.S. EPA graph shows that the Los Angeles area experienced the longest stretch of “good” air quality since 1995 this March.
A U.S. EPA graph shows that the Los Angeles area experienced the longest stretch of “good” air quality since 1995 this March. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The brownish haze that typically clouds the Los Angeles skyline has lifted, Los Angeles Magazine points out.

On Wednesday afternoon, L.A.’s rush-hour traffic was moving 71 per cent faster than normal, according to the New York Times.

READ MORE: Ozone layer repairing, redirecting wind flows, new study says

Between March 16 and April 6, UCLA professor Yifang Zhu and her colleagues found that there was a 20 per cent improvement in overall air quality in southern California, CNN reports.

Okanagan bans open burns, campfires to curb smoke during COVID-19 pandemic
Okanagan bans open burns, campfires to curb smoke during COVID-19 pandemic

“With less cars on the road and less emissions coming from those tailpipes, it’s not surprising to see improvements in the air quality overall,” she told CNN.

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Traffic has fallen 80 per cent since the stay-at-home orders came into effect.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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