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Volume 17, issue 7
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 4477–4491, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-17-4477-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 4477–4491, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-17-4477-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 03 Apr 2017

Research article | 03 Apr 2017

Impacts of coal burning on ambient PM2.5 pollution in China

Qiao Ma1, Siyi Cai1, Shuxiao Wang1,2, Bin Zhao3, Randall V. Martin4, Michael Brauer5, Aaron Cohen6, Jingkun Jiang1,2, Wei Zhou1, Jiming Hao1,2, Joseph Frostad7, Mohammad H. Forouzanfar7, and Richard T. Burnett8 Qiao Ma et al.
  • 1State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
  • 2State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Sources and Control of Air Pollution Complex, Beijing 100084, China
  • 3Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
  • 4Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2, Canada
  • 5School of Population and Public Health, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T1Z3, Canada
  • 6Health Effects Institute, Boston, MA 02110, USA
  • 7Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
  • 8Health Canada, Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9, Canada

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.

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In order to quantitatively identify the contributions of coal combustion to airborne fine particles, we developed an emission inventory using up-to-date information and conducted simulations using an atmospheric model. Results show that coal combustion contributes 40 % of the airborne fine-particle concentration on national average in China. Among the subsectors of coal combustion, industrial coal burning is the dominant contributor, which should be prioritized when policies are applied.
In order to quantitatively identify the contributions of coal combustion to airborne fine...
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