Assessing the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on urban transportation and air quality in Canada

Highlights

The consumption of motor gasoline decreased from March and rebounded in May 2020.

The urban traffic volume and congestion level changed after COVID-19 outbreak.

The concentrations of NO2 and CO had strong relevance with the COVID-19 period.

Emissions from urban vehicles accounted for a large proportion air pollutant emission.

AQHI of most cities declined to varying degrees after February 2020.

Abstract

The global outbreak and spread of COVID-19 had a significant impact on the environment of urban areas. This study aimed to provide a new insight into the urban transportation and air pollutant emission of representative Canadian cities impacted by this pandemic. The consumption of urban transportation fuel was analyzed and the corresponding CO2 emissions was evaluated. The changes in urban traffic volume and air pollutant concentrations before and after the outbreak of this pandemic was investigated. Due to the lockdown after the outbreak of COVID-19, the domestic consumption of motor gasoline and estimated CO2 emissions from urban vehicles in Canada has continuously decreased with a lowest level in April 2020, and rebounded in May 2020. It will still take a long time to recover to pre-pandemic levels because of the upcoming second wave of pandemic and further change. The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), level of urban congestion and concentration level of NO2 and CO had strong relevance with the COVID-19 period while SO2 did not show significant relation. The comprehensive analysis of changing fuel consumptions, traffic volume and emission levels can help the government assess the impact and make corresponding strategy for such a pandemic in the future.

Keywords

COVID-19 pandemic
Urban transportation
Urban air quality
Fuel consumption
Traffic volume
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