Enhancement of nanoparticle formation and growth during the COVID-19 lockdown period in urban Beijing.

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From: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics(Vol. 21, Issue 9)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 379 words

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Abstract :

Influenced by the spread of the global 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, primary emissions of particles and precursors associated with anthropogenic activities decreased significantly in China during the Chinese New Year of 2020 and the lockdown period (24 January-16 February 2020). The 2-month measurements of the number size distribution of neutral particles and charged ions showed that during the lockdown (LCD) period, the number concentration of particles smaller than 100 nm decreased by approximately 40 % compared to the pre-LCD period in January. However, the accumulation mode particles increased by approximately 20 % as several polluted episodes contributed to secondary aerosol formation. In this study, new particle formation (NPF) events were found to be enhanced in the nucleation and growth processes during the LCD period, as indicated by the higher formation rate of 2 nm particles (J.sub.2) and the subsequent growth rate (GR). The relevant precursors, e.g., SO.sub.2 and NO.sub.2, showed a clear reduction, and O.sub.3 increased by 80 % during LCD period, as compared with pre-LCD. The volatile organic vapors showed different trends due to their sources. The proxy sulfuric acid during the LCD period increased by approximately 26 %, as compared with pre-LCD. The major oxidants (O.sub.3, OH, and NO.sub.3) of VOCs were also found to be elevated during LCD. That indicated higher J.sub.2 and GR (especially below 5 nm) during the LCD period were favored by the increased concentration level of condensing vapors and decreased condensation sink. Several heavy haze episodes have been reported by other studies during the LCD period; however, the increase in nanoparticle number concentration should also be considered. Some typical NPF events produced a high number concentration of nanoparticles that intensified in the following days to create severe aerosol pollution under unfavorable meteorological conditions. Our study confirms a significant enhancement of the nucleation and growth process of nanoparticles during the COVID-19 LCD in Beijing and highlights the necessity of controlling nanoparticles in current and future air quality management.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A661070156