Observed and Potential Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Environment
3. COVID-19 and Other Large-Scale Epidemic Diseases of the 21st Century
- The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) occurred in 2003, leading to more than 8000 infections with a mortality rate of approximately 10% and an impact limited only to local and regional economies . The epidemic ended abruptly in July 2003 and no human cases of the SARS coronavirus have been detected since.
- The 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (swine flu) was a pandemic which first appeared in Mexico and the United States in March and April of 2009. It became a global pandemic as a result of global mobility and airline travel and led to an estimated 0.4% case fatality .
- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) was first identified in humans in Saudi Arabia and Jordan in 2012 . MERS is considered a zoonotic pathogen, with infected dromedary camels being the animal source of infection to humans [31,32]. By contrast to SARS, which was contained within a year of emerging, MERS continues to have a limited circulation and causes human disease with intermittent sporadic cases, community clusters and nosocomial outbreaks in the Middle East region with a high risk of spreading globally .
- The Ebola virus was first detected in 1976 in Zaire (presently the Democratic Republic of Congo). Since the virus was first detected, over 20 known outbreaks of Ebola have been identified in sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon . At present, no vaccine or efficient antiviral management strategy exists for Ebola . Although the Ebola virus has substantial epidemic and pandemic potential (due to the ease of international travel), as shown by the 2013–2016 West-African Ebola virus epidemic with approximately 28,000 confirmed cases and 11,000 deaths [36,37], Ebola outbreaks have been geographically limited .
- The Zika fever (2015–2016) was first isolated in 1947 from a febrile rhesus macaque monkey in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Since 1954, when the first cases in humans were reported, the Zika virus had only limited sporadic infections in Africa and Asia. However, a large outbreak with approximately 440,000 to 1,300,000 cases spread from Brazil to 29 countries in the Americas in 2015 . In November 2016, WHO announced the end of the Zika outbreak.
4. Impacts on the Environment
4.1. Impacts on the Physical Systems of the Environment
4.1.1. Air Quality and Local Climate
4.1.2. Aquatic Systems and Water Resources
4.1.3. The Soil Environment
4.2. Impacts on the Ecological Systems
4.3. Impacts on Environmental Dimension of the Global Affairs
4.4. Environmental Monitoring and Climate Services
5. Impacts on the Present Climate and Climate Change
Conflicts of Interest
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|SDGs||COVID-19 Observed and Potential Impacts (Examples)||Time Scales of the Impact||References|
|1: No Poverty||Deep economic and financial crisis could dramatically increase extreme poverty.||Days to decades|||
|2: Zero Hunger||The crisis has caused a massive slowdown of the efforts to support investment, including through enhanced international cooperation. Impact on the Water, Energy and Food security nexus.||Days to decades|||
|3: Good Health and Well-being||Greater attention to the elderly and the fragile population for the growth of dedicated assistance services and access to medical and food resources.||Days to decades|||
|4: Quality Education||Education systems were forced to abruptly change procedures, shifting from physical to online teaching.||Days to decades|||
|5: Gender Equality||Pre-existing inequalities in the labour market have been deepened.||Days to years||[107,108]|
|6: Clean Water and Sanitation||The discovery of the permanence of the virus on surfaces and in aquifers requires a revision of the purification and sanitation systems.||Days to years|||
|7: Affordable and Clean Energy||Alternative energy sources and backup storage and transport systems should be developed to secure societal needs during crises.||Years to decades|||
|8: Decent Work and Economic Growth||The pandemic has shown that there are groups of workers most exposed to risk to health and life by requiring a revision of the working methods in industry, commerce and health.||Months to decades||[105,111]|
|9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure||Technological innovation and a close link with the research invention, also to the advantage of a change in production methods, has proved to be an unavoidable condition for the solution of global problems||Months to decades||[112,113]|
|10: Reduced Inequality||Improvements in access to information technologies to reduce inequalities in poor and large families who have to use remote school systems and access to other resources.||Days to months||[24,114]|
|11: Sustainable Cities and Communities||Revisions of adaptation plans are foreseen for major cities to increase health resilience in citizens and to better protect elderly population.||Months to decades||[72,115,116]|
|12: Responsible Consumption and Production||Revision of production systems from the global to the local scale to ensure access and distribution of strategic resources with consequent enhancement of territorial activities.||Months to decades|||
|13: Climate Action||Transfer of the concepts learned from pandemic evolution to the climate issue.||Months to decades|||
|14: Life Below Water||No evidence of significant observed or potential impact.||Not the case|||
|15: Life on Land||Possible financial shortages on protected areas, Increase microplastics in water and soil; Strong support for closing the wildlife trade; Concerns about the influence of habitat loss on epidemic episodes.||Months to decades||[92,93]|
|16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions||The importance of strong coordination between institutions has been markedly indicated for national ones but, above all, for international ones where the exchange of exact and punctual information can indicate safe ways for solving problems on a global level.||Months to decades||[99,120]|
|17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal||The efficiency of international agreements have been dramatically challenged, and the need for rethinking regional and global partnerships emerged.||Days to decades|||
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Cheval, S.; Mihai Adamescu, C.; Georgiadis, T.; Herrnegger, M.; Piticar, A.; Legates, D.R. Observed and Potential Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Environment. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 4140. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17114140
Cheval S, Mihai Adamescu C, Georgiadis T, Herrnegger M, Piticar A, Legates DR. Observed and Potential Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Environment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(11):4140. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17114140Chicago/Turabian Style
Cheval, Sorin, Cristian Mihai Adamescu, Teodoro Georgiadis, Mathew Herrnegger, Adrian Piticar, and David R. Legates. 2020. "Observed and Potential Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Environment" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 11: 4140. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17114140