Urgent Call for Evidence on Air Quality Changes in the UK During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Urgent Call for Evidence on Air Quality Changes in the UK During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) has issued a rapid request for evidence from the air quality research community to assess the coronavirus pandemic’s recent and ongoing effects on air pollution. The request covers two aspects:

Impacts that air pollution has on the coronavirus situation.

Impact of coronavirus measures on air quality.

This evidence gathering is critical in helping the UK to deal with the immediate challenges that coronavirus poses and will be equally essential when the current pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Air pollution has a significant adverse effect on public health and particularly affects vulnerable groups such as those with underlying respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The recent changes in living and working patterns imposed by the UK government in light of the coronavirus pandemic are likely to have had a significant, but as yet unquantified, effect on air pollution in the UK (eg altered road transport emissions, locations where people are exposed to pollution and relative mixtures of different pollutants being emitted).

To assess these potential impacts, better estimates of UK emissions, concentrations and exposure during the pandemic are required. These are needed to underpin both short-term and seasonal predictions of UK air quality, and to inform any potential changes that might be needed to current air pollution reduction interventions.

A series of key questions are being asked of scientists to provide focused and rapid scientific evidence that can support decision-making on air quality management in the coming weeks and months. The questions do not attempt to convey the full diversity of potential impacts that changing air quality during the pandemic might have, or aim to explore, except superficially, the possible interactions between air pollution and the virus. Multidisciplinary thinking is encouraged.

Requests for evidence and analysis are sought from any relevant experts working in the field of air pollution science, technology or management. Evidence may be based on existing measurements, atmospheric modelling, theoretical analysis, scenario modelling or sensitivity analysis. Short summary inputs (up to four pages) should be sent to AQEG by email by 30 April 2020. There is no requirement to respond to every question and additional data can be made available to AQEG via a weblink or other similar method.

RESEARCHconnect will continue to keep track of funding and policy developments relating to COVID-19 in the UK and overseas as the situation develops.