Special Issue on COVID-19 Aerosol Drivers, Impacts and Mitigation (XII)

Manisha Mishra, U.C. Kulshrestha This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi – 110067, India


Received: August 29, 2020
Revised: January 17, 2021
Accepted: January 21, 2021

 Copyright The Author's institutions. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited. 

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.200541  

  • Download: PDF

Cite this article:

Mishra, M., Kulshrestha, U.C. (2021). A Brief Review on Changes in Air Pollution Scenario over South Asia during COVID-19 Lockdown. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 21, 200541. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.200541


  • A major reduction in AQI levels was witnessed for most of the populated cities.
  • Up to 50% reduction was observed in NO2 levels in the South Asian region.
  • The reduced levels of pollutants are attributed to reduced fossil fuel emissions during shutdown.
  • Lockdown has suggested a new path for sustainable development in South Asia.


In general, the lockdown to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a better quality of air across the world. The concentrations of both particulate and majority of gaseous pollutants were decreased drastically due to total shutdown of outdoor activities in the initial phase. This has resulted in up to 50% reduction in the air quality index (AQI) over South Asian megacities. A significant reduction was observed over most polluted ranked cities in South Asia like Delhi (41%), Dhaka (16%), Kathmandu (32%), Colombo (33%) including Islamabad and Kabul. A major decrease was also observed in the gaseous pollutants like CO, NO2, and SO2. The strict lockdown provided an opportunity to the relevant authorities to reassess the large-scale transport and industrial sectors to avoid undue emissions of harmful pollutants. The present analysis suggests that there is a need of controlled emissions of air pollutants with reference to the lockdown values of `New Normal’, and to switch over to the cleaner fuel technology options at the earliest possible. There is a need to constitute an Inter-state agency to monitor trans-boundary and long-range transport of pollution across south Asia. Finally, a holistic approach for maintaining balance between `need and greed’ for energy and resource consumption is needed which can provide us the sustainable atmosphere and healthy air quality throughout the region.

Keywords: COVID-19, Pandemic, South Asia, Air Quality Index, Fine particulates

Don't forget to share this article 


Subscribe to our Newsletter 

Aerosol and Air Quality Research has published over 2,000 peer-reviewed articles. Enter your email address to receive latest updates and research articles to your inbox every second week.