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Near Downtown, Dirty Air On The Decline During COVID-19

Bill Rinehart
Exhaust is down nearly 20% on I-75 near Hopple Street from March 23 to June 30.

You may have guessed the air got cleaner near downtown Cincinnati as more people stayed home during COVID-19. Now Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency has the statistics to prove it.

The agency monitors air pollutants on a regular basis throughout the region. A study from one of those monitors, I-75 Southbound near Hopple Street, shows nearly a 20% decrease in exhaust.

Ohio's stay-at-home order began March 24. The study covered March 23 through June 30 and compared the numbers to the same time in 2017-2019:

  • Oxides of Nitrogen: -19.1%
  • Nitrogen Dioxide: -18.6%
  • Nitric Oxide: -20.1%
  • Carbon Monoxide: -9.1%
  • Particulate Matter: -14%
Credit Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency
The drop is noticeable during March and April and is slowly on it's way back up.

"It wasn't an entire surprise but yet it was really encouraging to see, frankly, what happens when we have a fairly significant drop in regular commuting," says spokeswoman Joy Landry.

She points out that it speaks to the impact of reducing air pollution and helps people with cardiovascular and lung issues.

The study also showed traffic was down 42% from March 24 to May 11 and down 20% from May 20 to June 30.

Landry encourages people to check out hourly pollution totals from all the monitoring sites.