Morphology, composition and mixing state of individual airborne particles: effects of the 2017 Action Plan in Beijing, China
Corporación Universidad de la Costa
Beijing is one of the most important Chinese megacities with extremely serious air pollution problems and human health impacts. In response to the air pollution the central and municipal governments of China have implemented a series of actions; one of which is the “Action Plan for Comprehensive Prevention and Control of Autumn and Winter Air Pollution in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Surrounding Areas 2017–2018” (the Action Plan) issued in 2017. The morphology, composition and mixing state of individual particles collected after the Action Plan was implemented were analyzed by high resolution-transmission electron microscopy coupled with an energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometer (TEM-EDX). The relative percentages of different individual particle types and the main sources of the particulate pollution before and after the Action Plan were compared. The results showed that sulfur was most frequently detected in the individual particles, and the particle types were mainly composed of soot aggregates, mineral particles, organic particles, metal particles, coal fly ashes, sulfate particles, and mixture particles. The mixture and sulfate particles dominated in the autumn samples, both for the haze and non-haze days. In winter the mineral and mixture particles dominated in samples for the non-haze days, while mixture particles and sulfate dominated in the samples for the haze days. The mixture particles in autumn were mainly the soot aggregates internally mixed with sulfate (S-soot type), while the mixture particles in winter were mainly the S-soot type and the mineral particles internally mixed with sulfate (S-mineral type). After the Action Plan, the relative percentages of sulfate particles, organic particles, and soot aggregates increased, while the relative percentages of mineral particles, metal particles and fly ashes decreased. The contribution from coal-fired sources was reduced significantly as evidenced by the decrease in the fly ash particles. The vehicle emissions and secondary reaction of particulate matter became the main sources of atmospheric particulate matters as evidenced by increase in sulfate particles, organic particles, and soot aggregates. The results presented in this study will assist in other plans to improve air quality and human health in megacities around the world.
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