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Less traffic on Las Vegas roads during pandemic is causing less pollution, county says

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Posted at 12:52 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 15:55:22-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Less vehicle traffic on Las Vegas roads caused by the coronavirus pandemic is yielding less air pollution in the area, according to Clark County.

Data gathered by the county’s Department of Environment and Sustainability (EVS) indicate less overall pollutant emissions in the region.

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The county says the results are likely due the resort corridor shut down and many Las Vegas valley residents complying with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s "Stay at Home" order.

“It’s too early to tell how much impact this will have on ozone this summer," said EVS meteorologist Paul Fransioli in a press release to the media.

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"We know for a fact that Clark County’s air quality has been good and improving since before the 'Stay at Home' order," he continued. "With the exception of wildfire summers, our air quality has steadily improved over the past 15 years or so.”

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The county said the data show less particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the second half of March compared to the first half, and about a one-third decrease in those pollutants from February to March.

More detailed findings from the press release include:

The conclusion stems from analysis of data from two air quality monitoring stations—one located at Jerome Mack Middle School on East Karen Avenue and a near-roadside station monitoring vehicle emissions at Rancho Drive and Teddy Drive. Levels for NO2 and PM2.5 decreased from March 1-16 compared to March 17-23. Both pollutants are considered harmful to health and the environment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the EPA, air pollution emitted from the transportation sector (cars, trucks, commercial aircraft and railroads) contributes to smog and poor air quality. Pollutants that contribute to poor air quality include particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOX).

Other findings include:

- Based on five years of air quality index data (2016 – 20), particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone are down slightly in March 2020 as compared to March in the years 2016 – 19.

- There were 16 days in February with MODERATE overall air quality, according to the Air Quality Index (AQI), compared to one MODERATE day in March.