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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-567
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-567
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 15 Aug 2019

Submitted as: research article | 15 Aug 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Air quality in the eastern United States and Eastern Canada for 1990–2015: 25 years of change in response to emission reductions of SO2 and NOx in the region

Jian Feng1, Elton Chan2, and Robert Vet1 Jian Feng et al.
  • 1Air Quality Measurement and Analysis Research Section, Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Canada
  • 2Measurements, Modelling and Interpretation Section, Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Toronto, Canada

Abstract. SO2 and NOx are precursors to form sulfate, nitrate and ammonium particles, which account for more than 50 % of PM2.5 mass in the eastern US and Eastern Canada, and are dominant components of PM2.5 during many smog events. H2SO4 and HNO3, formed from oxidation of SO2 and NOx respectively, are the main sources of acid deposition through wet and dry depositions. NOx is also a precursor to the formation of tropospheric O3, which is an important atmospheric oxidant and is also essential for the formation of other atmospheric oxidants, such as OH and H2O2.

In the past 26 years from 1990 to 2015, emissions of SO2 and NOx in US were significantly reduced from 23.1 and 25.2 million tons/year in 1990 to 3.7 and 11.5 million tons/year in 2015 respectively. In Canada, SO2 and NOx were reduced by 63 % and 33 % from 1990 to 2014. In response to the significant reduction of SO2 and NOx emissions, air quality in the eastern US and Eastern Canada improved tremendously during 1990–2015. In this study, we analyzed surface air concentrations of SO42−, NO3, NH4+, HNO3 and SO2 measured weekly by the Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET) in the US and measured daily from the Canadian Air and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CAPMoN) in Canada to reveal the temporal and spatial changes of each species during the 25-year period. For the whole the eastern US and Eastern Canada, the annual mean concentrations of SO42−, NO3, NH4+, HNO3, SO2 and TNO3 (NO3 + HNO3, expressed as the mass of equivalent NO3) were reduced by 73.3 %, 29.1 %, 67.4 %, 65.8 %, 87.6 % and 52.6 % respectively from 1990 to 2015. In terms of percentage, reduction of all species except NO3 was spatially uniform; reduction of SO2 and HNO3 was similar in warm season (May–October) and cold season (November–April), and reduction of SO42−, NO3 and NH4+ was more significant in warm season than in cold season. Reduction of SO42− and SO2 mainly occurred in 1989–1995 and 2007–2015 during warm season, and in 1989–1995 and 2005–2015 during cold season. Reduction of NO3 mainly occurred in the Midwest after 2000. Other than in the Midwest, NO3 had very little change during cold season for the period. The reduction of NH4+ generally followed the reduction trend of SO42−, especially after 2000 the temporal trend of NH4+ was almost identical to that of SO42−. The ratio of S in SO42− to total S in SO42− and SO2, as well as the ratio of NO3 to TNO3 increased by more than 50 % during the period. This indicates that much more percentage of SO2 was oxidized to SO42−, and much more percentage of HNO3 was neutralized to NH4NO3 in the region near the end of the period.

Jian Feng et al.
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Short summary
In this study, we analyzed the air concentration data of SO42−, NO3, NH4+, HNO3 and SO2 measured by the CASTNET in US and by the CAPMoN in Canada to reveal the temporal and spatial trends of air pollutants over the eastern US and Eastern Canada. We also explained: (1) why the reductions of SO2 were faster than SO42−; (2) NO3 did not decrease during cold season except in the Midwest and southern Ontario despite NOx emissions significantly reduced for the whole region.
In this study, we analyzed the air concentration data of SO42−, NO3, NH4+, HNO3 and SO2...
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