Airborne Particulate Pollution alterations during the COVID-19 pandemic in Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Background: PM10 and PM2.5 exposures affect both short- and long-term health issues, including respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and asthma, and increase the rate of hospital admissions and mortality. Since the global COVID-19 pandemic, all countries worldwide have employed different preventive measures to minimize their infections. Objective: This study aimed to examine particulate matter air pollutants of different sizes (PM10 and PM2.5) throughout the COVID-19 crisis in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, and to indicate local air pollution variation during the COVID-19 national emergency response actions period compared to last year's levels. Methodology: This research paper examined evidence-based procedures designed for population safety during the COVID-19 pandemic released by the Saudi Ministry of Health. Twenty-four-hour PM10 and PM2.5 sampling was performed using a mini volume sampler (Airmetrics, USA) at five sampling areas over Makkah. The study was completed for one year, from March 2020 to August 2021. Conclusion: This study validates that COVID-19 recovery plans should emphasize the evolution to a more sustainable post-COVID-19 lifestyle. Our study showed a significant reduction in monthly average PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, by about 65% and 66.6%, respectively, during quarantine, social distancing, the suspension of work and schools, and limitations of Umrah and Hajj. Moreover, our study highlighted the health co-benefits from the suppression actions, which might decrease air-pollution-caused COVID-19 mortality and daily new cases. Both perceptions of air pollution throughout the pandemic underline the significant role of anthropogenic emissions. More studies are required to investigate the association between COVID-19 and air pollution.
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