Stay-at-home order has positive impact on environment, USD researchers say

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SAN DIEGO – The stay-at-home orders have been in place for about a month and environmental researchers say the impact in San Diego is already noticeable.

According to the University of San Diego’s Energy Police Initiatives Center and the Air Pollution Control District, depending on the time of day, the air in San Diego is as much as 30% cleaner. In fact, you may even be able to feel it when taking a deep breath in.

“One of the things they are measuring is the particles in the air,’ said Michel Boudrias, Professor of Environmental and Oceanic Sciences. “Those have decreased substantially throughout and that means there’s less material in the air.”

Professor Boudrias points out 45% of the pollution we put in the air in San Diego comes from cars and trucks. The recent orders from the state have driven those numbers down along with greenhouse gas emissions.

Data from the Energy Policy Initiatives Center at USD suggests that nearly a billion miles of travel have been taken off the roads in town in just five weeks.

“I really hope people realize we really don’t have to go to the grocery store every day,” Boudrias added.

Boudrais said the changes in places like Venice, where fewer boats on the water means sediment has fallen to ocean floor and sea life is now more visible. He said he’s curious to see how sea life in Mission Bay has changed in the past month but won’t know until social distancing orders are lifted and they can get back out on the boats.

“How has that changed now that we’ve had a complete cleaning of the system?” Boudrias said. “Three months with no impact, no motorboats, no jet skis? How will that look? We can’t wait to get back and see.”

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