Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-716
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-716

  27 Oct 2021

27 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Trends in secondary inorganic aerosol pollution in China and its responses to emission controls of precursors in wintertime

Fanlei Meng1,, Yibo Zhang2,, Jiahui Kang1, Mathew R. Heal3, Stefan Reis4,3,5, Mengru Wang6, Lei Liu7, Kai Wang1, Shaocai Yu2, Pengfei Li8, Jing Wei9, Yong Hou1, Ying Zhang1, Xuejun Liu1, Zhenling Cui1, Wen Xu1, and Fusuo Zhang1 Fanlei Meng et al.
  • 1College of Resource and Environmental Sciences; National Academy of Agriculture Green Development; Key Laboratory of Plant-Soil Interactions of MOE, Beijing Key Laboratory of Cropland Pollution Control and Remediation, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
  • 2Research Center for Air Pollution and Health, Key Laboratory of Environmental Remediation and Ecological Health, Ministry of Education, College of Environment and Resource Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310058, P.R. China
  • 3School of Chemistry, The University of Edinburgh, David Brewster Road, Edinburgh EH9 3FJ, United Kingdom
  • 4UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Penicuik, EH26 0QB, United Kingdom
  • 5University of Exeter Medical School, Knowledge Spa, Truro, TR1 3HD United Kingdom
  • 6Water Systems and Global Change Group, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 7College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 8College of Science and Technology, Hebei Agricultural University, Baoding, Hebei 071000, China
  • 9Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Iowa Technology Institute, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
  • Contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. The Chinese government recently proposed ammonia (NH3) emissions reductions (but without a specific national target) as a strategic option to mitigate PM2.5 pollution. We combined a meta-analysis of nationwide measurements and air quality modelling to identify efficiency gains by striking a balance between controlling NH3 and acid gas (SO2 and NOx) emissions. We found that PM2.5 concentrations decreased from 2000 to 2019, but annual mean PM2.5 concentrations still exceeded 35 µg m−3 at 74 % of 1498 monitoring sites in 2015–2019. Secondary inorganic aerosols (SIA) were the dominant contributor to ambient PM2.5 concentrations. While sulfate concentrations significantly decreased over the time period, no significant change was observed for nitrate and ammonium concentrations. Model simulations indicate that the effectiveness of a 50 % NH3 emission reduction for controlling SIA concentrations decreased from 2010 to 2017 in four megacity clusters of eastern China, simulated for the month of January under fixed meteorological conditions (2010). Although the effectiveness further declined in 2020 for simulations including the natural experiment of substantial reductions in acid gas emissions during the CoVID-19 pandemic, the resulting reductions in SIA concentrations were on average 20.8 % lower than that in 2017. In addition, the reduction of SIA concentrations in 2017 was greater for 50 % acid gas reductions than for the 50 % NH3 emissions reduction. Our findings indicate that persistent secondary inorganic aerosol pollution in China is limited by acid gases emissions, while an additional control on NH3 emissions would become more important as reductions of SO2 and NOx emissions progress.

Fanlei Meng et al.

Status: open (until 18 Dec 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-716', Anonymous Referee #1, 23 Nov 2021 reply

Fanlei Meng et al.

Fanlei Meng et al.

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Short summary
PM2.5 pollution is a pressing environmental issue globally threatening human health and food security. We combined a meta-analysis of nationwide measurements and air quality modelling to identify efficiency gains by striking a balance between controlling NH3 and acid gas emissions. Persistent secondary inorganic aerosol pollution in China is limited by acid gases emissions, while an additional control on NH3 emissions would become more important as reductions of SO2 and NOx emissions progress.
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