Aerosol composition, oxidation properties, and sources in Beijing: results from the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit study
Abstract. The mitigation of air pollution in megacities remains a great challenge because of the complex sources and formation mechanisms of aerosol particles. The 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing serves as a unique experiment to study the impacts of emission controls on aerosol composition, size distributions, and oxidation properties. Herein, a high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer was deployed in urban Beijing for real-time measurements of size-resolved non-refractory submicron aerosol (NR-PM1) species from 14 October to 12 November 2014, along with a range of collocated measurements. The average (±σ) PM1 was 41.6 (±38.9) μg m−3 during APEC, which was decreased by 53 % compared with that before APEC. The aerosol composition showed substantial changes owing to emission controls during APEC. Secondary inorganic aerosol (SIA: sulfate + nitrate + ammonium) showed significant reductions of 62–69 %, whereas organics presented much smaller decreases (35 %). The results from the positive matrix factorization of organic aerosol (OA) indicated that highly oxidized secondary organic aerosol (SOA) showed decreases similar to those of SIA during APEC. However, primary organic aerosol (POA) from cooking, traffic, and biomass-burning sources were comparable to those before APEC, indicating the presence of strong local source emissions. The oxidation properties showed corresponding changes in response to OA composition. The average oxygen-to-carbon level during APEC was 0.36 (±0.10), which is lower than the 0.43 (±0.13) measured before APEC, demonstrating a decrease in the OA oxidation degree. The changes in size distributions of primary and secondary species varied during APEC. SIA and SOA showed significant reductions in large accumulation modes with peak diameters shifting from ~ 650 to 400 nm during APEC, whereas those of POA remained relatively unchanged. The changes in aerosol composition, size distributions, and oxidation degrees during the aging processes were further illustrated in a case study of a severe haze episode. Our results elucidated a complex response of aerosol chemistry to emission controls, which has significant implications that emission controls over regional scales can substantially reduce secondary particulates. However, stricter emission controls for local source emissions are needed for further mitigating air pollution in the megacity of Beijing.