The impact of COVID 19 on air pollution levels and other environmental indicators - A case study of Egypt.

Mostafa, M. K., G. Gamal, and A. Wafiq, "The impact of COVID 19 on air pollution levels and other environmental indicators - A case study of Egypt.", Journal of environmental management, vol. 277, pp. 111496, 2021.


The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) not only affected health and economics, but also its effect extended to include other aspects, such as the environment. Using Egypt as a case study, this paper presents the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on air pollution levels by studying nitrogen dioxide (NO), ozone (O), particulate matter represented in absorbing aerosol index (AAI), carbon monoxide (CO), and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The paper also highlights the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on other environmental indicators including environmental noise, medical and municipal solid wastes. The paper presents the Egyptian COVID-19 story from its different angles including the development of confirmed COVID-19 cases, containment measures from the government, the impact on the country's economy and the national energy consumption so as to effectively evaluate the effect on both the air pollution levels and the other studied environmental indicators. For the other environmental indicators, a strong link was observed between COVID-19 lockdown and the reduction in environmental noise, beaches, surface and groundwater pollution. For environmental noise, this has been confirmed by officially governmental announcements which reported that the level of environmental noise in Egypt was reduced by about 75% during the lockdown period. On the other hand, there are some negative effects, including an increase in medical solid waste (from 70 to 300 ton/day), municipal solid waste, as well as a less efficient solid waste recycling process. For air pollution levels, the data were obtained from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and European Space Agency satellite data sets. The data for the lockdown period in 2020 have been extracted and compared to the corresponding months in the selected baseline period (2015-2019) to identify the effect that the lockdown period had on the air pollution levels in Egypt with focus on Cairo and Alexandria governorates. It was found that the AAI decreased by about 30%, the NO decreased by 15 and 33% over Cairo and Alexandria governorates, respectively, and that the CO decreased by about 5% over both governorates. In addition, the GHG emissions in Egypt were reduced by at least 4% during the pandemic. In contrast, ozone levels increased by about 2% over Cairo and Alexandria governorates. It can be concluded that the implemented containment measures during COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in both positive and negative environmental impacts. The positive environmental impacts are not sustainable and deterioration on them is expected to occur after the lockdown as it was before the pandemic. Therefore, stricter laws must be enacted to protect the environment in Egypt.