Gupta studies air pollution in India, and like many other scientists, he’s been studying how the lockdowns have decreased emissions above urban areas.In Santiago, Chile, researchers studied urban air pollution during those same three months and compared them to the same period during the previous three years.
Pollution concern also lay in the shadows, says Landrigan, because “all the attention was on climate change.” But several recent efforts have raised pollution’s status on the global agenda, with not just the Lancet report but also the work of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and the World Health Organization’s first global conference on air pollution last year.
The formulas are complex, but the bottom line is that reducing the emphasis on health makes it tougher to justify a rule.Last week the Trump administration took a crucial step toward de-emphasizing the life and health benefits in this calculus when the Environmental Protection Agency said it would rethink a major regulation that restricts mercury emissions by coal-burning power plants.
That rule would have restricted coal plants’ emission of a different pollutant: carbon dioxide, one of the chief causes of global warming.At the time the Obama administration put forth the mercury regulations, which took more than 20 years to formulate, E.P.A. officials estimated they would save thousands of lives and return economic and health benefits many times their estimated $9.6 billion annual cost.While owners of coal plants fought the rule in the courts, most have since complied with regulation.