The Government is taking a proactive approach to understand the possible links between air quality and COVID-19. That is why, with our Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG), we ran a rapid Call for Evidence to ensure we can more fully understand the impact that COVID-19 is having on air pollutant emissions, concentrations and human exposure. A report was published on 1 July (the report can be found here: https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/library/reports.php?report_id=1005) which outlines the findings from this Call for Evidence. The report provides an early snapshot of evidence (pre-April 30th 2020) and is an important component of Defra’s response to COVID-19 and strategic leadership to improving air quality in the UK. A detailed follow-up by AQEG in the form of a more traditional review of the peer reviewed evidence will follow when more is known about the impact of the pandemic on air quality.
The National Air Quality Monitoring Network continuously monitors air quality across the UK for a range of pollutants including for key pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and particulates. These networks have provided valuable insights into the impacts COVID -19 has had on air quality throughout this pandemic and continue to provide valuable information to assess air pollution trends.
Improving air quality remains a top priority for the Government and, especially during these unprecedented times, we will continue to take robust and comprehensive action to improve air quality in the UK and minimise public health impacts. This includes action that Government is taking to deliver our Clean Air Strategy, including through the Environment Bill. We will apply our understanding of the longer-term implications from these unprecedented changes in living and working patterns to delivering our environmental commitments.