Chemical composition, source, and process of urban aerosols during winter haze formation in Northeast China

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The characteristics of aerosol particles have been poorly evaluated even though haze episodes frequently occur in winter in Northeast China. OC/EC analysis, ion chromatography, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were used to investigate the organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC), and soluble ions in PM2.5 and the mixing state of individual particles during a severe wintertime haze episode in Northeast China. The organic matter (OM), NH4+, SO42−, and NO3− concentrations in PM2.5 were 89.5 μg/m3, 24.2 μg/m3, 28.1 μg/m3, and 32.8 μg/m3 on the haze days, respectively. TEM observations further showed that over 80% of the haze particles contained primary organic aerosols (POAs). Based on a comparison of the data obtained during the haze formation, we generate the following synthetic model of the process: (1) Stable synoptic meteorological conditions drove the haze formation. (2) The early stage of haze formation (light or moderate haze) was mainly caused by the enrichment of POAs from coal burning for household heating and cooking. (3) High levels of secondary organic aerosols (SOAs), sulfates, and nitrates formation via heterogeneous reactions together with POAs accumulation promoted to the evolution from light or moderate to severe haze. Compared to the severe haze episodes over the North China Plain, the PM2.5 in Northeast China analyzed in the present study contained similar sulfate, higher SOA, and lower nitrate contents. Our results suggest that most of the POAs and secondary particles were likely related to emissions from coal-burning residential stoves in rural outskirts and small boilers in urban areas. The inefficient burning of coal for household heating and cooking should be monitored during wintertime in Northeast China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-366
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue numberPart 1
Early online date25 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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