China’s War on Particulate Air Pollution is Causing More Severe Ozone Pollution

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PM 2.5 pollution is falling but ground-level ozone pollution is on the rise.

In early 2013, the Chinese government declared a war on air pollution and began instituting stringent policies to regulate the emissions of fine particulate matter, a pollutant known as PM 2.5. Cities restricted the number of cars on the road, coal-fired power plants reduced emissions or were shuttered and replaced with natural gas. Over the course of five years, PM 2.5 concentrations in eastern China have fallen nearly 40 percent.

The number of air quality monitoring stations across the country has grown to over 1,000, collecting unprecedented amounts of environmental data. Sifting through that data, researchers from the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology (NUIST), found something surprising: While PM 2.5 pollution is falling, harmful ground-level ozone pollution is on the rise, especially in large cities.

As it turns out, when it comes to the war on air pollution, chemistry is a formidable foe.

Continue reading at John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University

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