Tuesday November 24, 2020
CAPCOG, Austin study COVID-19’s impact on air quality
The CAPCOG Air Quality Program and the city of Austin are conducting a study that will analyze how changes in traffic and telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the region’s air quality. It also will investigate how the potential implications of longer-term changes in telecommuting and transportation behavior experienced during the pandemic may affect future air quality.
“Transportation is a big source of air pollution in the region; the large-scale changes in transportation behavior during the pandemic offers a unique opportunity to better understand the potential air quality impacts, particularly related to telecommuting,” explained Andrew Hoekzema, CAPCOG regional planning and services director. The study, which is being done with Austin’s Office of Sustainability, will help policy makers evaluate potential impacts of more extensive telecommuting after the pandemic ends.
The study will compare measured air pollutants during the pandemic period with previous years’ measurements, estimate the impacts of changes in transportation behavior on emissions, and assess the effects of specific changes in emissions on regional air quality such as reductions in vehicle miles traveled from personal vehicles due to reduced commuting or increases in vehicle activity from light-commercial trucks. The study is anticipated to be completed and released in mid- to-late 2021.