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“Revenge Pollution?” or COVID-19 Resurgence?


The article highlights the ways in which lock-downs have positively impacted the climate.  Additionally, the article highlights that sustainability of these positive impacts is not likely, and that there may even be a burst of “revenge pollution” in the back half of the year as countries resume activities and attempt to revive the economy.

According to WHO:  “ambient (outdoor air pollution) is a major cause of death and disease globally…in children and adults, both short- and long-term exposure to ambient air pollution can lead to reduced lung function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma.”

Post COVID-19 recovery scenarios that do not also mandate reductions in ambient air pollution may inadvertently cause a “revenge pollution” scenario that could lead to a rapid rise in respiratory symptoms and illnesses that are associated with both ambient air pollution and active COVID-19 illness, but may be caused by a sudden rise in ambient air pollution.

This could lead to multiple undesirable social impacts, including: a 2nd round of panic, finger pointing, confusion, continued xenophobia, unnecessary lock-downs or requests to isolate, fear-of-COVID-19 stigma toward anyone with any respiratory symptoms, distrust that COVID-19 is retreating, a run on respiratory or therapeutic products that treat related respiratory illnesses, and a rise in requests for COVID-19 testing to rule the virus in or out.