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COVID-19 and the Environment

COVID-19 and the Environment

– Featured Image By Emma Houle

Since the Coronavirus pandemic shut down the world, our environment has faced many changes such as increased pollution from surgical masks and decreased air pollution from stay-at-home orders. The following article lists some of the shocking environmental statistics that illustrate what has come from the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Dolphins returned to the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh after lockdowns reduced tourism and pollution.⁶
  • Noise pollution from boating and beach-dwelling has decreased globally which has benefited marine invertebrates, as anthropogenic noises previously inhibited natural behavior and interactions. ⁵
  • The heavily polluted waters of the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, cleared, and aquatic animals, such as dolphins, reappeared. ⁴
– Art By Chelsea Kintz
  • In Haridwar and Rishikesh, India, 700 million liters per day of industrial pollution (10% of total effluents) were reduced to virtually zero when major polluting industries along the Ganga River closed due to lockdowns. This resulted in a drastic improvement in the River’s water quality.3
  • There was an increase in biomedical waste, made up mostly of single-use masks. Almost 90 million disposable masks were needed each month in 2020 because of COVID-19.⁷
– Art By Emma Houle
  • Carbon dioxide levels decreased by 50% in New York City in March of 2020.1
  • A 50% reduction in nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide in China from January to April 2020.2
  • An increased amount of disinfectants were used throughout the pandemic which negatively impacted many species. For example, chlorine disinfectants are toxic to multiple terrestrial and aquatic species, causing respiratory issues, digestive problems, and sometimes resulting in death.⁹
  • Waste sorting and recycling was put on pause in some European countries, such as Italy, when there were spikes in COVID-19 infected residents.⁸

COVID-19 has changed many aspects of the environment in 2020. The rapid changes that happened during the lockdowns show the resilience of nature, and should give hope for the future of the environment. But how we move forward after this pandemic also has serious implications for our Planet’s sustainability.

Work Cited
  1. Will Covid-19 have a lasting impact on the environment? (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200326-covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-environment
  2. Environmental impact of covid-19 lockdowns seen from space. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://news.wttw.com/2020/04/02/environmental-impact-covid-19-lockdowns-seen-space
  3. COVID-19 lockdown: A VENTILATOR for rivers. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/covid-19-lockdown-aventilator-for-rivers-70771
  4. CatClifford. (2020, March 19). The water in Venice, Italy’s canals is running Clear amid the covid-19 lockdown – take a look. Retrieved April 28, 2021, from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/18/photos-water-in-venice-italys-canals-clear-amid-covid-19-lockdown.html
  5. Solan, M., Hauton, C., Godbold, J., Wood, C., Leighton, T., & White, P. (2016, February 5). Anthropogenic sources of underwater sound can modify how sediment-dwelling invertebrates mediate ecosystem properties. Retrieved May 02, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4742813/
  6. RARE dolphin sighting as Cox’s bazar locks down UNDER COVID-19 Coronavirus!!! (2020, March 24). Retrieved May 02, 2021, from https://youtu.be/gjw8ZllIlbQ
  7. Fadare, O., & Okoffo, E. (2020, October 1). Covid-19 face masks: A potential source of microplastic fibers in the environment. Retrieved May 02, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297173/
  8. Zambrano-Monserrate, M., Ruano, M., & Sanchez-Alcalde, L. (2020, August 1). Indirect effects of covid-19 on the environment. Retrieved May 02, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7169883/
  9. Nabi, G., Wang, Y., Hao, Y., Khan, S., Wu, Y., & Li, D. (2020, September). Massive use of disinfectants against COVID-19 poses potential risks to Urban wildlife. Retrieved May 02, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7346835/

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