San Francisco’s Air Quality Has Drastically Improved During ‘Shelter In Place’

Ashlyn Davis Ashlyn Davis

AQI san francisco

Air quality in SF has improved by 40% compared to the same time last year, according to a new system monitoring environmental changes during COVID-19.

San Francisco was ordered to stay home to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, industries have slowed down, the roads have cleared out and people are staying indoors, leaving the air drastically clearer.

Earth Economics, an environmental non-profit organization developed an online dashboard to track air quality, according to NBC. The dashboard measures the average concentration of fine particulate matter — which are the harmful particles in the air — in San Francisco, New York and Seatle, compared to measurements at the same time last year. 

According to the measurements, San Francisco saw a 40% drop in particulate matter compared to the previous year, during the initial shelter-in-place period.

This is supported by The Bay Area Air Quality Management Districts’ tables, which are green (that’s good on the Air Quality Index scale) for multiple measurements. The graph below illustrates the clear drop over the month of March in the Coast & Central Bay Area.   


air pollution san francisco
Measurement: Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)| Units: micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3)

While the effects may not last, it does provide us with some hope for how we could manage climate change in the future.

Featured image: Natalie Chaney

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