Significant concurrent decrease in PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations in China during COVID-19 epidemic

Hong He , Biwu Chu , Shuping Zhang , Jun Liu , Qingxin Ma


Received May 30, 2020,Revised , Accepted June 23, 2020, Available online July 01, 2020

Volume 33,2021,Pages 346-353

The strict control measures and social lockdowns initiated to combat COVID-19 epidemic have had a notable impact on air pollutant concentrations. According to observation data obtained from the China National Environmental Monitoring Center, compared to levels in 2019, the average concentration of NO2 in early 2020 during COVID-19 epidemic has decreased by 53%, 50%, and 30% in Wuhan city, Hubei Province (Wuhan excluded), and China (Hubei excluded), respectively. Simultaneously, PM2.5 concentration has decreased by 35%, 29%, and 19% in Wuhan, Hubei (Wuhan excluded), and China (Hubei excluded), respectively. Less significant declines have also been found for SO2 and CO concentrations. We also analyzed the temporal variation and spatial distribution of air pollutant concentrations in China during COVID-19 epidemic. The decreases in PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations showed relatively consistent temporal variation and spatial distribution. These results support control of NOx to further reduce PM2.5 pollution in China. The concurrent decrease in NOx and PM2.5 concentrations resulted in an increase of O3 concentrations across China during COVID-19 epidemic, indicating that coordinated control of other pollutants is needed.

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