Traffic Reduction Affects Air Quality in Southern California

Jacquie Cadorette
May 24, 2020 - 2:24 pm

While traffic has been relatively light in Southern California due to the coronavirus pandemic, it could pick up some with businesses beginning to reopen. The new traffic could lead to a rise in air pollution.

Less cars on the road means less gas polluting the air. Emissions dropped during the coronavirus pandemic with less people traveling many places.

And while the number of cars on the road between April and May was dramatically different from last year, the number is beginning to climb again, NBC Los Angeles reports.

Air quality trackers prove that the air quality is "good" when traffic is at its lower points

"We had about three to four weeks of very stormy rainy weather straight without a break," Dr. Philip Fine of the South Coast AQMD said. 

"Actually, the cleaner air started about a week before the stay-at-home order and traffic began to drop so it was a combination." 

Meanwhile, Dr. Yifang Zhu from UCLA's Department of Environmental Health Sciences says the way we choose to go back to work could impact the air quality. 

"The pandemic gave us a time to pause and reflect and thinking about what kind of society, what kind of environment we want to live in. Also how much work can I do remotely versus how much work that I really have to commute to the office and do it in person?" Zhu said.