As a result of the 2020 COVID-19 breakout, nations across the globe have had different experiences and taken different actions regarding air quality improvement and deterioration. Among the nations that exhibited the greatest impacts was Canada, specifically its Toronto and Ontario regions.
As the nation shut down and restricted civilians from leaving their homes, the emissions released into the air were substantially decreased. Besides essential workers, there was a massive decrease in commuting and travelling, therefore decreasing the amount of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other hydrocarbons released into the air.
The results were bluer skies, whiter clouds, fresher air and starry nights. The healthy skies and fresh air were the silver lining in the devastating pandemic.
According to studies conducted by scientists, the abundance of nitrogen dioxides and nitrogen oxides in the air has fallen drastically while the ozone concentrations have increased by a rather alarming amount. There is no exact reasoning as to why the ozone layers have increased by such a substantial amount but scientists speculate that the clearer skies have made sunlight and light waves much more powerful and clear.
It is not uncommon knowledge that communities that consist of lower income families and households have access to lower quality resources, especially water. For instance, in Flint, Michigan, one of the world’s most polluted water systems, the nitrate levels are substantially higher than the normal, legal amount. Labelled as one of America’s poorest and most dangerous cities, there is an evident correlation between Flint’s wealth levels and the pollutants in their water.
Furthermore, in today’s current state of a pandemic, societal status plays a major role in an individual’s accessibility to healthcare and exposure to illness. For instance, evidence from surveillance and the media have proven the claim that black, Latino and other racial minorities have higher mortality and infection rates than the white population in the United States, United Kingdom and especially the region of Ontario, Canada.
A study performed in Toronto, Ontario has supported the fact that the lowest income percentile has the highest infection rate when compared to all other individuals. The numbers support this claim: in the lowest percentile 113 out of 100,000 people were infected while 73 out of 100,000 were infected in the highest income percentile.
Change is necessary. There should not have to be a gap between the highest and lowest income percentiles when it comes to infection and mortality rates. In a nation with “universal health care” it does not make sense for there to be such great disparities between different income levels.
It is a worldwide commonality that lower income yields worsened water quality and a relatively poor quality of life. Major differences in welfare from community to community in Ontario makes it easier for the smaller, richer population to gain access to purified, clean water. Ultimately, socioeconomic status has a major impact on individuals’ access to more purified everyday resources such as water and even breathing air.
However, all across the internet, individuals and communities have come together to spread awareness and try to make it evident that change needs to be made. Users like “@queerbrownvegan” and “@plantawhisperer” on Instagram promote environmental equality and access to water. By spreading awareness for the aforementioned issues, change is being made. More and more individuals are waking up and seeing what is happening in the ecosystem. This is an important step in environmental equality.