Sources of particulate matter in China:
Insights from source apportionment studies published in 1987-2017
Particulate matter (PM) in the atmosphere has adverse effects on human health, ecosystems, and visibility. It also plays an important role in meteorology and climate change. A good understanding of its sources is essential for effective emission controls to reduce PM and to protect public health. In this study, a total of 239 PM source apportionment studies in China published during 1987-2017 were reviewed. The documents studied include peer-reviewed papers in international and Chinese journals, as well as degree dissertations. The methods applied in these studies were summarized and the main sources in various regions of China were identified. The trends of source contributions at two major cities with abundant studies over long-time periods were analyzed. The most frequently used methods for PM source apportionment in China are receptor models, including chemical mass balance (CMB), positive matrix factorization (PMF), and principle component analysis (PCA). Dust, fossil fuel combustion, transportation, biomass burning, industrial emission, secondary inorganic aerosol (SIA) and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) are the main source categories of fine PM identified in China. Even though the sources of PM vary among seven different geographical areas of China, SIA, industrial, and dust emissions are generally found to be the top three source categories in 2007-2016. A number of studies investigated the sources of SIA and SOA in China using air quality models and indicated that fossil fuel combustion and industrial emissions were the most important sources of SIA (total contributing 63.5%-88.1% of SO42-, and 47.3%-70% NO3-), and agriculture emissions were the dominant source of NH4+ (contributing 53.9%-90%). Biogenic emissions were the most important source of SOA in China in summer, while residential and industrial emissions were important in winter. Long-term changes of PM sources at two megacities of Beijing and Nanjing indicated that the contributions of fossil fuel and industrial sources have been declining after stricter emission controls in recent years. In general, dust and industrial contributions decreased and transportation contributions increased after 2000. PM2.5 emissions are predicted to decline in most regions during 2005-2030, even though the energy consumptions except biomass burning are predicted to continue to increase. Industrial, residential, and biomass burning sources will become more important in the future in the businuess-as-usual senarios. This review provides valuable information about main sources of PM and their trends in China. A few recommendations are suggested to further improve our understanding the sources and to develop effective PM control strategies in various regions of China.