Effect of COVID-19 travel restrictions on Phoenix air quality after accounting for boundary layer variations

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5 Scopus citations


Due to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a variety of policy responses that have produced a range of expected and unexpected effects on society and our surrounding environment. One widely reported result of the pandemic response is that travel restrictions have resulted in improvements in regional air quality. This study aims to determine the effect of COVID-19 related Stay at Home precautions on air quality in a metropolitan area. We specifically focus on CO, NO2, and PM10 in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, as these all contribute to local air quality concerns. The role of meteorological parameters on ambient concentrations for these pollutants was investigated by using the local planetary boundary layer height (PBH) to account for vertical mixing. Across all three sites studied, there was no uniform decrease in either CO or NO2, even when freeway traffic volume was down by ~35%. For PM10, there was a significant decrease of ~45% seen at all the sites for the period most directly impacted by local Stay at Home restrictions compared to the past two years. This indicates that different pollutants have fundamentally different behavior in the local environment and suggests that these pollutants originate from different sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100105
JournalAtmospheric Environment: X
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Air quality
  • COVID-19 travel restrictions
  • Planetary boundary layer
  • Vehicle emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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