Impacts of transboundary air pollution and local emissions on PM2.5 pollution in the Pearl River Delta region of China and the public health, and the policy implications

X. Hou, C. K. Chan, G. H. Dong, S. H.L. Yim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite a downward trend in pollutant levels because of a series of emission control policies, the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region continues to suffer from a high number of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) events and the resultant public health impacts. To effectively control PM2.5 in the region, a comprehensive understanding of source contribution and PM2.5 responses to various emission species is critical. We applied the Community Multiscale Air Quality Modeling System together with the high-order decoupled direct method, to simulate air quality and PM2.5 sensitivity and examined PM2.5 responses to emission species in the PRD region in the four seasons of 2010. We employed a concentration-response function to quantify the resultant number of premature mortalities attributable to outdoor PM2.5. We estimated that local and transboundary air pollution (TAP) contributed 27% and 73%, respectively, of the region's PM2.5. In absolute terms, the largest impacts from local and TAP occurred in winter. With respect to relative contributions among the different sources, regional TAP (between cities in the region) (R-TAP) and local contributions had the largest effect in summer, whereas superregional TAP (from outside of the region) contributed the most in fall and winter. Outdoor PM2.5 pollution caused 20 160 (95% confidence interval: 5100-39 310) premature mortalities every year in the PRD region. Averaging among cities, 50%, 20%, and 30% of these deaths were attributable to S-TAP, R-TAP, and local contributions, respectively. Precursor gas emissions (i.e. NH3, volatile organic compounds, SO2, and NOx) affect PM2.5 level in a nonlinear manner; thus, individual pollutant control strategies are less effective for improving PM2.5 pollution than an integrated strategy. On the basis of our findings, we recommend that controls for multiple emission species should be implemented to control PM2.5 pollution in the region.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

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