Impacts of primary emissions and secondary aerosol formation on air pollution in an urban area of China during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Affiliation

Tian J(1), Wang Q(2), Zhang Y(3), Yan M(4), Liu H(3), Zhang N(3), Ran W(3), Cao J(5).
Author information:
(1)Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710061, China; CAS Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Xi'an 710061, China; Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Atmospheric and Haze-fog Pollution Prevention, Xi'an 710061, China.
(2)Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710061, China; CAS Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Xi'an 710061, China; Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Atmospheric and Haze-fog Pollution Prevention, Xi'an 710061, China. Electronic address: [Email]
(3)Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710061, China.
(4)School of Human Settlements and Civil Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710049, China.
(5)Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710061, China; CAS Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Xi'an 710061, China; Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Atmospheric and Haze-fog Pollution Prevention, Xi'an 710061, China. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Restrictions on human activities were implemented in China to cope with the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), providing an opportunity to investigate the impacts of anthropogenic emissions on air quality. Intensive real-time measurements were made to compare primary emissions and secondary aerosol formation in Xi'an, China before and during the COVID-19 lockdown. Decreases in mass concentrations of particulate matter (PM) and its components were observed during the lockdown with reductions of 32-51%. The dominant contributor of PM was organic aerosol (OA), and results of a hybrid environmental receptor model indicated OA was composed of four primary OA (POA) factors (hydrocarbon-like OA (HOA), cooking OA (COA), biomass burning OA (BBOA), and coal combustion OA (CCOA)) and two oxygenated OA (OOA) factors (less-oxidized OOA (LO-OOA) and more-oxidized OOA (MO-OOA)). The mass concentrations of OA factors decreased from before to during the lockdown over a range of 17% to 58%, and they were affected by control measures and secondary processes. Correlations of secondary aerosols/ΔCO with Ox (NO2 + O3) and aerosol liquid water content indicated that photochemical oxidation had a greater effect on the formation of nitrate and two OOAs than sulfate; however, aqueous-phase reaction presented a more complex effect on secondary aerosols formation at different relative humidity condition. The formation efficiencies of secondary aerosols were enhanced during the lockdown as the increase of atmospheric oxidation capacity. Analyses of pollution episodes highlighted the importance of OA, especially the LO-OOA, for air pollution during the lockdown.