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Less traffic means 40% drop in car pollution in Seattle but will it last?

Published on May 28, 2020

A view of Seattle's typically busy freeways with very few vehicles, due to working from home and social distancing mandates.
Far fewer people are driving on Seattle's typically busy freeways due to working from home and social distancing mandates. Image Credit: Pxfuel. DMCA

Experts say our good air quality this spring is partially due to people driving less. However, they warn that unless big, long-term changes are made, these cleaner skies are not here to stay.

From late March through the end of April, car pollution in Seattle dropped by roughly 40 percent compared to the same time in previous years. Very few people were driving. That’s according to Phil Swartzendruber, a scientist with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

How long may we enjoy the benefits of these cleaner skies? KOMO News took that question to a physician and UW professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, epidemiology, and medicine who has studied air quality for decades.

“If we go back to the same patterns of filling the highways and add traffic that we had before the pandemic-related restrictions, I think there’s every reason to believe our air quality will also return to those pre-pandemic conditions,” said Dr. Joel Kaufman.

Bottom line, Dr. Kaufman and other experts say our better air quality will only last as long as people choose to drive less. People we spoke to hope this stay-at-home era is a wake-up call to our society.


Continue reading at KOMO News.

Originally written by Abby Acone for KOMO News.
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