Articles | Volume 15, issue 11
Research article
02 Jun 2015
Research article |  | 02 Jun 2015

Aerosol composition and sources during the Chinese Spring Festival: fireworks, secondary aerosol, and holiday effects

Q. Jiang, Y. L. Sun, Z. Wang, and Y. Yin

Abstract. Aerosol particles were characterized by an Aerodyne aerosol chemical speciation monitor along with various collocated instruments in Beijing, China, to investigate the role of fireworks (FW) and secondary aerosol in particulate pollution during the Chinese Spring Festival of 2013. Three FW events, exerting significant and short-term impacts on fine particles (PM2.5), were observed on the days of Lunar New Year, Lunar Fifth Day, and Lantern Festival. The FW were shown to have a large impact on non-refractory potassium, chloride, sulfate, and organics in submicron aerosol (PM1), of which FW organics appeared to be emitted mainly in secondary, with its mass spectrum resembling that of secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Pollution events (PEs) and clean periods (CPs) alternated routinely throughout the study. Secondary particulate matter (SPM = SOA + sulfate + nitrate + ammonium) dominated the total PM1 mass on average, accounting for 63–82% during nine PEs in this study. The elevated contributions of secondary species during PEs resulted in a higher mass extinction efficiency of PM1 (6.4 m2 g-1) than during CPs (4.4 m2 g-1). The Chinese Spring Festival also provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of reduced anthropogenic emissions on aerosol chemistry in the city. Primary species showed ubiquitous reductions during the holiday period with the largest reduction being in cooking organic aerosol (OA; 69%), in nitrogen monoxide (54%), and in coal combustion OA (28%). Secondary sulfate, however, remained only slightly changed, and the SOA and the total PM2.5 even slightly increased. Our results have significant implications for controlling local primary source emissions during PEs, e.g., cooking and traffic activities. Controlling these factors might have a limited effect on improving air quality in the megacity of Beijing, due to the dominance of SPM from regional transport in aerosol particle composition.

Short summary
Aerosol composition and sources during the Chinese spring festival are characterized in detail. The roles of fireworks and secondary aerosol in fine particle pollution were elucidated. We observed large reductions of primary species, whereas changes of secondary aerosol during the holiday period were minor. This has significant implications; reducing primary emissions on a local scale during severe haze episodes might have a limited effect on improving air quality in megacities.
Final-revised paper