ONE knock-on effect of the lockdown being hailed as a positive for Bournemouth is the apparent drop in pollution levels.

Readings taken from monitoring stations across the UK have shown a marked reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions.

NO2, a potent greenhouse gas, is released from car exhausts – so with fewer vehicles on the roads, concentrations of the gas have toppled.

In Bournemouth, for March 19-26, 2019, the NO2 reading was 13. This is compared to 9.1 for March 17-24 this year.

For the same periods at Christchurch Barrack Road, the reading has dropped from 22.8 to 16.

East Dorset Friends of the Earth's Angela Pooley told the Daily Echo: "This is something positive that can come out of all of this, because it proves air quality is improved by a reduction in motor vehicle travel.

"It is a positive for the health and wellbeing of everybody.

"It is something we can learn from this dreadful situation, to encourage people to use their cars less."

Aside from being a potent greenhouse gas, adding to global warming, raised levels of nitrogen dioxide can increase the likelihood of respiratory problems.

Breathing in increased levels can have a significant impact of people with asthma and older people with heart disease –two of the highest at risk groups in the current Covid-19 pandemic.

On the latest emissions data, Mrs Pooley said: "It is great news for Bournemouth because we carried out air quality surveys a couple of years ago in Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch and every single one of these exceeded the legal limits.

"In some areas there has been a real problem with air quality so this has to be taken as a positive.

"It is good news."

The figures were compiled by the BBC Shared Data Unit.

This unit analysed average daily NO2 emissions for each monitoring station in the eight days since Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people they should work from home versus the equivalent week last year.

Earlier this year a separate study suggested that one in every 20 deaths in the Bournemouth conurbation may be a direct result of air pollution.

This report, compiled in Centre for Cities' annual study of the UK's major urban areas, called for the introduction of 'ultra low emission zones' in every town and city centre.

It estimated that 273 people, or five per cent of all deaths, in Bournemouth last year could be attributed to air pollution.