Impacts of coal burning on ambient PM2.5 pollution in China
Abstract. High concentration of fine particles (PM2.5), the primary concern about air quality in China, is believed to closely relate to China's large consumption of coal. In order to quantitatively identify the contributions of coal combustion in different sectors to ambient PM2. 5, we developed an emission inventory for the year 2013 using up-to-date information on energy consumption and emission controls, and we conducted standard and sensitivity simulations using the chemical transport model GEOS-Chem. According to the simulation, coal combustion contributes 22 µg m−3 (40 %) to the total PM2. 5 concentration at national level (averaged in 74 major cities) and up to 37 µg m−3 (50 %) in the Sichuan Basin. Among major coal-burning sectors, industrial coal burning is the dominant contributor, with a national average contribution of 10 µg m−3 (17 %), followed by coal combustion in power plants and the domestic sector. The national average contribution due to coal combustion is estimated to be 18 µg m−3 (46 %) in summer and 28 µg m−3 (35 %) in winter. While the contribution of domestic coal burning shows an obvious reduction from winter to summer, contributions of coal combustion in power plants and the industrial sector remain at relatively constant levels throughout the year.