Long-term characterization of roadside air pollutants in urban Beijing and associated public health implications

Xuefang Wu, Tuan V. Vu, Roy M. Harrison, Jing Yan, Xiaohan Hu, Yangyang Cui, Aijun Shi, Xinyu Liu, Yan Shen, Gen Zhang*, Yifeng Xue

*Corresponding author for this work

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Road traffic constitutes a major source of air pollutants in urban Beijing, which are responsible for substantial premature mortality. A series of policies and regulations has led to appreciable traffic emission reductions in recent decades. To shed light on long-term (2014–2020) roadside air pollution and assess the efficacy of traffic control measures and their effects on public health, this study quantitatively evaluated changes in the concentrations of six key air pollutants (PM2.5, PM10, NO2, SO2, CO and O3) measured at 5 roadside and 12 urban background monitoring stations in Beijing. We found that the annual mean concentrations of these air pollutants were remarkably reduced by 47%–71% from 2014 to 2020, while the concurrent ozone concentration increased by 17.4%. In addition, we observed reductions in the roadside increments in PM2.5, NO2, SO2 and CO of 54.8%, 29.8%, 20.6%, and 59.1%, respectively, indicating the high effectiveness of new vehicle standard (China V and VI) implementation in Beijing. The premature deaths due to traffic emissions were estimated to be 8379 and 1908 cases in 2014 and 2020, respectively. The impact of NO2 from road traffic relative to PM2.5 on premature mortality was comparable to that of traffic-related PM2.5 emissions. The public health effect of SO2 originating from traffic was markedly lower than that of PM2.5. The results indicated that a reduction in traffic-related NO2 could likely yield the greatest benefits for public health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113277
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date21 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 21806012 , 42075112 , and 41775127 ), the Basic Research Fund of the CAMS (No. 2020Z002 ) and the Foundation of Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Eco-Environmental Protection (No. Y2022-007 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Health effects
  • NO
  • PM
  • Roadside increment
  • Traffic control policy
  • Traffic emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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