Exploring chemical changes of the haze pollution during a recent round of COVID-19 lockdown in a megacity in Northeast China

Chemosphere. 2021 Dec 31;292:133500. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.133500. Online ahead of print.


COVID-19 rebounded in China in January 2021, with Heilongjiang as one of the worst-affected provinces. This resulted in a new round of lockdown in Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang, from 20 January to 22 February of 2021. A field campaign was conducted to explore the responses of haze pollution in Harbin to the lockdown. Levoglucosan was used to reflect biomass burning emissions, while the molar ratio of sulfur (the sum of sulfur dioxide and sulfate) to nitrogen (the sum of nitrogen dioxide and nitrate), i.e., RS/N, was used as an indicator for the relative importance of coal combustion and vehicle emissions. Based on a synthesis of the levoglucosan and RS/N results, reference period was selected with minimal influences of non-lockdown-related emission variations. As indicated by the almost unchanged sulfur dioxide concentrations, coal combustion emissions were relatively stable throughout the lockdown and reference periods, presumably because the associated activities, e.g., heating supply, power generation, etc., were usually uninterruptible. On the other hand, as suggested by the increase of RS/N, vehicle emissions were considerably reduced during lockdown, likely due to the stay-at-home orders. Compared to results from the reference samples, the lockdown period exhibited higher levels of ozone and various indicators for secondary aerosol formation, pointing to an enhancement of secondary pollution. In addition, photochemistry-related reactions in aqueous phase appeared to be present during the lockdown period, which have not been reported in the frigid atmosphere over Northeast China.

PMID:34979207 | PMC:PMC8719449 | DOI:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2021.133500


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