The drop in traffic-related air pollution in the Boston area found by Tufts researchers offers lessons for the future.
If you thought that the air quality improved during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, you were right. A recently published Tufts-led study found a direct connection between the stay-at-home orders following the COVID-19 outbreak this spring with improved air quality in Somerville, Massachusetts, neighborhoods located next to Interstate 93 and busy side roads.
The team—two School of Engineering faculty and two Tufts graduates—correlated dramatic drops in traffic along stretches of Interstate 93 and neighboring Routes 28 and 38 with cleaner air in areas where car and truck exhaust are the dominant sources of air pollution.
The study, supported by the City of Somerville, noted that “dramatic reductions in traffic afforded the opportunity to quantify improvements in air quality,” reported authors Neelakshi Hudda and John Durant, in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Matt Simon, EG17, an engineer at the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, and Allison Patton, EG14, a staff scientist at the Health Effects Institute.
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