Has Colombo’s Air Pollution Reduced As A Result Of The Lockdown As These Images Claim? We Found Out The Truth.

Coronavirus Environment False

Alongside the growing COVID-19 pandemic and its resultant lockdown, much debate is happening around its positive impacts to the environment as a result of minimized human activity in many parts of the world. While many posts are circulating on social media about the positive impacts to the environment, some fact checks have debunked many such claims. In fact, a 25th March 2020 USA Today fact check tells us that “although air pollution has decreased, experts say the effects are only temporary. And, viral social media posts of wildlife retaking developed areas are misrepresenting the facts”.

In Sri Lanka too, a recent photo based post has been circulating indicating several images of a skyline and claiming to be the showcasing of an improvement in air pollution in Colombo. The posts seem to be of the same locale and mention that the different images were taken on different days during the lockdown in Sri Lanka, i.e. Day1, Day8 and Day 43. Some of these posts, found on Facebook and Twitter can be seen below:



In order to verify the authenticity of the claim and the actual location of the photographs, we began with a Google Reverse Image search which indicated that the same post was shared in the name of other South East Asian countries (including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand), throwing some doubt on the location being Colombo as the local viral post indicated. The search results can be seen below:

A further check for the distinguishable landmarks present in each of the separate skylines in the viral image indicated that the location could be Makati City in central Manila, Philippines. A recent image of the Manila skyline published in relation to the lockdown on ARNET can be seen below, side-by-side with one of the original viral images: 

We also managed to locate the original postings of the images by a Manila local Tops Dizon on 26th April and on 23rd March 2020 as further proof. The post can be seen below:


Tops Dizon indicated that it was the Quezon City, Metro Manila area. This sent us on a Google Maps search for further details of the distinguishable buildings in the photographs.

Our search indicated that the pictures were taken from a high point in the Quezon City, Project 8 in the Manila Metropolitan area. Here is our Google Maps search of the area:

To investigate further, we had a look at the area using the Street View option in Google Maps and discovered the semicircular building (Gardini Quezon City Branch – Coat Tuxedo Suit For Rent Rental) prominently visible in the middle image of the three, as can be seen here:

Comparison to viral image:

Further down Visayas Avenue in Quezon City we came across the other prominent building in the viral image a condominium complex, Stellar Place by DCMI Homes

Comparison to viral image:

It should also be noted that none of the distinguishable buildings in the viral images match the Colombo skyline which a simple Google search can present. Previously AFP Sri Lanka had carried out a fact check with the same findings as well.

Furthermore, quoting McGill University associate professor and epidemiologist Jill Baumgartner from a NY Times article published on 22nd March 2020: “This really shouldn’t be seen as a silver lining. It’s not a sustainable way to reduce air pollution, and the long-term economic and well-being impacts of this crisis are going to be devastating for many people.” 


We declare that the viral post claiming that the Colombo skyline has cleared in the last 43 days is false as the image was not even captured in Colombo. Hence, we declare the viral posts false. 


Title:Has Colombo’s Air Pollution Reduced As A Result Of The Lockdown As These Images Claim? We Found Out The Truth.

Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne 

Result: False

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