Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impacts on Air Pollution in Rural and Urban California
Julianna Porraz and Colleen C. Naughton, PhD
Pollutants like Ground-level Ozone (O3) and Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) are associated with poor air quality and are linked to negative health effects particularly for low-income and minority populations. During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, shelter-in-place orders were enacted across California on March 19, 2020 to contain the spread of the virus, thus leading to substantially lower O3 and PM2.5 emissions in urban regions with less emissions from transportation. Most researchers have focused on air pollution in cities. There is a need to analyze COVID-19 shelter-in-place impacts on air pollution in rural areas compared to urban areas. Rural areas may not have as drastic of a reduction in air pollution from shelter-in-place orders given less traffic congestion and continued agricultural cultivation and associated emissions. However, urban area pollution still spreads to rural areas. Data was obtained from the Air Quality and Meteorological Information System (AQMIS2) through the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Statistical analysis, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Kruskal-Wallis test were performed in RStudio to see if there was a statistically significant difference in O3 and PM2.5 levels compared to previous years within the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) and compared to urban areas. The results indicate there is a difference in the rural SJV in comparison to urban regions. Air quality data should be further monitored and analyzed to determine sustained impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on air quality in rural and urban areas in under resourced communities.
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