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Concentrations and Allocation of NO2 Emissions to Different Sources in a Distinctive Italian Region after the COVID-19 Lockdown

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Document pages: 19 pages

Abstract: Nitrogen dioxide concentrations, being short-lived pollutants, are good indicators of changes in emission sources and economic slowdowns. This analysis focuses on the Greater Salento region (Italy) and aims to monitor, by investigating the relative sources, the changes of NO2 tropospheric concentrations notoriously related to vehicular traffic exhausts and, in general, to fossil fuel combustion processes which are now apparently linked to many COVID-19 patients deaths. The principle objective of this paper is to map the tropospheric NO2 local distribution and to extrapolate, from the overall data of average daily concentrations of NO2 as recorded by the ARPA-Puglia ground-based monitoring stations, the single contributions and their mutual relationships of the different diffuse emission sources (motor vehicles and domestic heating systems) by identifying, the environmental background threshold of this pollutant of each geographic area, thanks to the simplified situation determined by the COVID-19 lockdown. The analyzed territory (the so-called “Greater Salento” or Salento Peninsula) is very unusual because there are two provinces with large industrial settlements, Taranto, with the steel area of ex-ILVA, and Brindisi, with petrochemical and thermoelectric power plants, which enclose a territory, the province of Lecce, free of any industrial plants of such sizes and their environmental impacts. From the results of this study, in addition to confirming the obvious and overall decrease of NO2 concentrations (-23.2 compared to previous year) during the lockdown period, interesting and distinctive local allocations of nitrogen dioxide concentrations to different sources have also emerged: heating household systems, and not road traffic, are the main sources of this dangerous pollutant in this region, with an average quota of 44.3 . The studied regional situation is so significant as to allow broader considerations regarding to other similar international areas.

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