+
Planet

Air pollution in major cities has dropped by as much as 60% thanks to shelter-in-place policies

Air pollution in major cities has dropped by as much as 60% thanks to shelter-in-place policies
via Chinge / Twitter

Human activity has drastically slowed over the past few weeks giving us a glimpse into what the world might look like if we weren't around. One of the most dramatic changes that we can see with the naked eye is an improvement in air quality over major metropolitan areas.

People around the world are truly excited to see clear skies and vistas that were previously obscured by pollution.



Improved visibility is a wonderful gift but what's more important is a reduction in what we usually don't see in the air: atmospheric particulate matter or PM2.5.

Atmospheric particulate matter has a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair. It is produced by cars, power plants, agricultural burning, airplanes, and volcanic eruptions.

The pollutant is a major health risk because it can lodge deep inside the lungs and pass into the organs and bloodstream causing damage that can be fatal.

Air pollution, in general, is a major health risk. According to the World Health Organization, it kills seven million people a year.

Researchers from IQAir — a global air quality information and tech company — studied ten major cities around the world that had COVID-19 outbreaks and stringent lockdown measures, to see how those policies affected the air quality.

The cities it studied are: Delhi, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Mumbai, New York City, Rome, São Paulo, Seoul, and Wuhan.

The study found that cities with the world's worst air pollution saw a reduction in deadly particulate matter by up to 60%. To get an accurate gauge of the lockdown's effects, researchers studied three-week periods that coincided with the peak number of daily reported coronavirus cases.

via IQAir

New Delhi, India, one of the world's most polluted cities, saw a 60% reduction in dangerous particulate matter from March 23 to April 13 from the same period in 2019.

Los Angeles, which is known for its oppressive traffic and notorious smog, saw its longest stretch of clean air on record. Particulate levels were down by 31% from the same time last year, and down 51% from the average of the previous four years.

Some estimates suggest that COVID-19 restrictions have taken about 80% of passenger cars off the roads in Tinseltown.

IQAir hopes that after people across the world have experienced the joy of living with clean air they'll fight to keep it that way.

"In our recovery from the pandemic, it's important that we strive to preserve the cleaner environment, which protects our health from another invisible killer, air pollution," IQAir's marketing specialist Kelsey Duskasaid said according to CNN.

"We hope that the urgency in tackling this global pandemic may be matched in addressing air pollution."

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less

Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in 2006.

A startling number of professional athletes face financial hardships after they retire. The big reason is that even though they make a lot of money, the average sports career is relatively short: 3.3 years in the NFL; 4.6 years in the NBA; and 5.6 years in MLB. During that time, athletes often dole out money to friends and family members who helped them along the way and can fall victim to living lavish, unsustainable lifestyles.

After the athlete retires they are likely to earn a lot less money, and if they don’t adjust their spending, they’re in for some serious trouble.

In a candid interview with NFL Hall of Famer and TV personality Shannon Sharpe, Chad Ochocinco (legally Chad Johnson) revealed that he saved 80 to 83% of the $48 million he made in the NFL by faking his lavish lifestyle because it made no sense to him.

Keep ReadingShow less
Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

American mom living in Germany lists postpartum support and women are gobsmacked

“Every video you make gets me closer to actually moving to Germany.”

U.S. mom living in Germany shares postpartum support she received.

Having a baby is not an easy feat no matter which way they come out. The pregnant person is either laboring for hours and then pushing for what feels like even more hours, or they're getting cut from hip to hip to bring about their bundle of joy. (Unless you're one of those lucky—or rather not-so-lucky—folks who get to labor for hours only to still end up in surgery.)

Giving birth is hard and healing afterward can feel dang near impossible, especially given that most states in the U.S. only offer six weeks of maternity leave and it's typically unpaid. But did you know that not everyone has that experience?

A mom who had her first child in the U.S. before meeting her current husband and relocating to Germany is shedding light on postpartum care in her new country. The stark contrast is beyond shocking to women living in the U.S. and she's got a few considering crossing the ocean for a better quality of life.

Keep ReadingShow less

Meghan Elinor chimes in on the Starbucks tipping debate.

Tipping culture is rapidly changing in America, so understandably a lot of people aren’t sure what to do when they buy a coffee and the debit card reader asks for a tip. It used to be that people only tipped bartenders, drivers, servers and hairdressers.

Now people are being asked to tip just about any time they encounter a point-of-sale system. There is a big difference between tipping a server who lugged around hot plates of food for an hour-long meal and someone who simply handed you an ice cream cone.

"We're living in an era of inflation, but on top of that, we've got tipping everywhere—tipflation. I take it a step further and call it a tipping invasion. Because that's really what I think it is," etiquette expert Thomas Farley (aka Mister Manners) told CBS 8.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

Keep ReadingShow less