Air pollution has become a serious concern for its potential health hazard, however, often got less attention in developing countries, like Bangladesh. It is expected that worldwide lockdown due to COVID-19 widespread cause reduction in environmental pollution in particularly the air pollution: however, such changes have been different in different places. In Chittagong, a city scale lockdown came in force on 26 March 2020, a week after when first three cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Bangladesh. This study aims to statistically evaluate the effects of COVID-19 lockdown (26 March to 26 April 2020) on selected air quality pollutants and air quality index s. The daily average concentrations of air pollutants PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2 and CO of Chittagong city during COVID-19 lockdown were statistically evaluated and were compared with dry season data averaging over previous 8 years (2012 to 2019). During lockdown, except NO2, all other pollutants studied showed statistically significant decreasing trend. During the COVID-19 shutdown notable reduction of 40%, 32% and 13% compared to the daily mean concentrations of these previous dry season were seen for PM2.5, PM10 and NO2, respectively. The improvement in air quality index value was found as 26% in comparison to the previous dry season due to less human activities in COVID-19 shutdown. The factor analysis showed that AQI in Chittagong city is largely influenced by PM10 and PM2.5 during COVID-19 shutdown. The lesson learnt in this forced measure of lockdown is not surprising and unexpected. It is rather thought provoking for the decision makers to tradeoff the tangible air quality benefits with ongoing development strategies’ that was often overlooked directly or indirectly.
- Impacts on air pollutants (both gaseous and particulate matter) due to measures taken during COVID-19 lockdown has been analyzed;
- Due to COVID-19 lockdown in Chittagong city, 40% and 30% reduction of the mean concentration were found for PM2.5 (μg/m3) and PM10 (μg/m3) respectively;
- Air Quality Index improved by 26% during COVID-19 lockdown although NO2 (μg/L) showed increasing trend even in COVID-19 lockdown period.