iOS app shows virus lockdown leads to remarkably cleaner skies

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IQAir app showing LA air quality in coronavirus
Los Angeles has cleaner air under COVID-19 restrictions.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

A pandemic that kills thousands offers no silver linings.

But stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 shows us a window for what living with clean air is like.

An air quality tech company, whose global measurements can be monitored on an iOS app, says greenhouse gas emissions are so low right now, Los Angeles has the cleanest air of all metropolitans areas in the U.S.

That’s right, the city known for smog and bottle-neck traffic has clear skies.

“About a year ago, Los Angeles was ranked the worst air quality in the entire country,” CEO of IQAir Glory Dolphin Hammes told CBS News. “Now, we’re seeing some of the best air quality, not just in the country, but in the world.”

IQAir has monitoring stations across the globe and its iOS app provides air quality readings for more than 10,000 locations.

Climate scientists estimate the COVID-19 lockdown has pulled some 80 percent of the cars off local roads. IQAir data shows air pollution has dropped 31 percent compared to the same time last year, according to the CBS report.

Other polluted cities, from New Delhi, India to Venice in Italy are also experiencing cleaning air and water, according to IQAir.

China returning to red levels
As China returns to work, so do greenhouse gas emissions.
Screenshot: IQAir

The app also shows Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, with rising pollution levels as people return to work.

“But if things go back to normal a week from now, that’ll be a distant memory. The air will be just like it would have been,” Stanford environmental scientist Rob Jackson, told CBS. “It doesn’t have to be shelter at home or clean air. It can be clean air every day.”