IMPACT OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON AIR QUALITY IN A TOURISTIC REGION
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137 - 148
ANA CATARINA T. SILVA, PEDRO T. B. S. BRANCO, SOFIA I. V. SOUSA
The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic led governments to impose mobility restrictions to their citizens and companies, having a greater impact on tourism. This can be used as a global-scale opportunity to study the impact of those restrictions on air quality, particularly in tourist sites. Hence, the aim of this work was to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air quality in a touristic region. Air pollution was evaluated in a prominent touristic region in southern Europe (Algarve, Portugal). The concentrations of PM10, NO2, O3 and CO were obtained from four air quality monitoring stations (traffic and background) in two lockdown and two lifting periods. The data collected was compared with historical data (2015–2019) and with reference limit values in the Portuguese legislation and the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Overall, PM10 reduced in all studied periods and stations, with a higher decrease during the 1st lockdown and lifting (5.30%–73.6%) compared to the 2nd periods in the urban traffic and background stations, as well as NO2 (35.8%–56.5%), in the urban background station evaluated. O3 diminished in general (until 29.1%), while CO decreased during the 1st lockdown and lifting periods (64.5%–80.7%) and increased in the subsequent periods (9.66%–65.1%) in the urban traffic station. The percentage of exceedances to the reference limit values both in the legislation and in WHO guidelines mainly decreased or remained equal in all the studied periods when compared with the previous years. Thus, it was concluded that the mobility restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a general reduction of air pollution in tourist sites. Since tourism is an important economic activity, some specific policies were proposed based on those restrictions, considering a sustainable equilibrium between the economy, the environment, and human health.
air quality, COVID-19, lockdown, lifting, tourism, air pollution, SARS-CoV-2