Improved air quality has been one of the few silver linings of the coronavirus and must be sustained through any exit strategy. Stories of wildlife returning to previously uninhabitable spaces and toxic nitrogen dioxide reducing by up to 60 per cent in some cities have provided a much-needed respite from the heartbreak and devastation caused by Covid-19.

The rapid improvement in pollution levels thanks to lockdown gives researchers a unique opportunity to investigate the various health effects of air pollution and the speed with which they can be reversed.

For those working in this area, the expectation is positive. Following the efforts by the Chinese authorities to improve air quality for the Beijing Olympics, newborn birth weight increased by an average of 27 grams. Another intervention study showed that academic performance improved after air filters were fitted to schools in Los Angeles.

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