Study Finds That Remote Work Keeps Air Cleaner in Some Cities

Study Finds That Remote Work Keeps Air Cleaner in Some Cities

Cities around the world currently enjoy improved air quality thanks to the persistence of remote work since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In spring 2020, the closures of schools, offices, retail shops, restaurants, bars and places of leisure resulted in significant drops in nitrogen oxide. This chemical plays a strong role in air pollution, including smog and acid rain.

Even when communities lifted the stringent COVID-19 restrictions and restaurants, bars and gyms reopened, nitrogen oxide levels remained 20% lower than they were during the same time period of 2019.

man driving to work

Researchers attribute the ongoing lower level of nitrogen oxide emissions to the persistence of remote work. Large cities and metropolitan areas had the largest drops in nitrogen oxide emissions.

The 2021 emission levels of nitrogen oxide remain lower than those of 2019. Freight levels have not changed since the start of the pandemic.

Researchers suspect that nitrogen oxide emissions may level off if employers allow workers to continue working remotely.

The study of nitrogen oxide emissions also found that not all cities experienced these big decreases in air pollution. For example, Chicago’s air quality decreased during the pandemic.

Nitrogen oxide levels also increased in some rural areas. The researchers surmised that some natural background variation in emissions levels or an increase in farming emissions may have contributed to these exceptions.

With fewer people driving to work every day, auto exhaust emissions have dropped. About 25% of workers continued to work remotely at the end of 2020, even though authorities lifted nearly all COVID-19 restrictions by that time.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic sent tens of millions of workers home in March 2020, remote work has become more popular than ever. Today’s employees want flexibility, which remote work facilitates.

woman working remotely from home

Workers like having fewer distractions. Working from home means no office gossip or and fewer interruptions, which makes it easier to get things done.

Remote work allows talented employees to work for their most desired employer. They don’t have to relocate when employers offer remote work.

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