Use of a mobile laboratory to evaluate changes in on-road air pollutants during the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics
1State Key Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, 100871, China
2Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, Texas 77843, USA
3Chinese Academy of Meteorological Science, Beijing, 100081, China
Abstract. China implemented systematic air pollution control measures during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and Paralympics to improve air quality. This study used an innovative mobile laboratory to conduct in situ monitoring of on-road air pollutants along Beijing's 4th Ring Road on 31 selected days before, during, and after the Olympics air pollution control period. A suite of instruments with response times of less than 30 s was used to measure temporal and spatial variations in traffic-related air pollutants, including NOx, CO, PM1.0 surface area (SPM1), black carbon (BC), and benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and m-, p-, and o-xylene (BTEX). During the Olympics (8–23 August 2008), on-road air pollutant concentrations decreased significantly by up to 54% for CO, 41% for NOx, 70% for SO2, 66% for BTEX, 12% for BC, and 18% for SPM1 compared to the pre-control period (before 20 July). Concentrations increased again after the control period ended (after 20 September), with average increases of 33% for CO, 42% for NOx, 60% for SO2, 40% for BTEX, 26% for BC, and 37% for SPM1. Variations in pollutants concentrations were correlated with changes in traffic speed and the number and types of vehicles on the road. Throughout the measurement periods, the concentrations of NOx, CO, and BTEX varied markedly with the numbers of light- and medium-duty vehicles (LDVs and MDVs, respectively) on the road. Only after 8 August was a noticeable relationship between BC and SPM1 and the number of heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) found. Additionally, BC and SPM1 showed a strong correlation with SO2 before the Olympics, indicating possible industrial sources from local emissions as well as regional transport activities in the Beijing area. Such factors were identified in measurements conducted on 6 August in an area southwest of Beijing. The ratio of benzene to toluene, a good indicator of traffic emissions, shifted suddenly from about 0.26 before the Olympics to approximately 0.48 after the Olympics began. This finding suggests that regulations on traffic volume and restrictions on the use of painting solvents were effective after the Olympics began. This study demonstrated the effectiveness of air pollution control measures and identified local and regional pollution sources within and surrounding the city of Beijing. The findings will be invaluable for emission inventory evaluations and model verifications.