Regulatory effects on particulate pollution in the early hours of Chinese New Year, 2015

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Original languageEnglish
Article number467
Journal / PublicationEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number9
Online published23 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017



Human activities are a key driver of air pollution, so it is hardly surprising that celebrations affect air quality. The use of fireworks contributes to high particulate concentrations in many parts of the world, with the Chinese Lunar New Year (spring festival) particularly noticeable, as firecrackers are traditionally used to drive off evil spirits. Fireworks lead to short-term peaks in the concentration of PM10, PM2.5 and SO2. Regulatory actions that restrict the use of fireworks have been evident in China since the 1990s. This paper investigates the particulate concentrations in nine Chinese cities (Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Tianjin, Xi’an, Nanjing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, along with Hong Kong (a Special Administrative Region) and Taipei and Kaohsiung (Taiwan) with a particular focus on the celebrations of 2015. Extremely high concentrations of particulate matter were observed, with some sites revealing peak PM10 concentrations in excess of 1000 μg m-3 in the early hours of the New Year. In Beijing, Tianjin and Chongqing, the activities caused high particulate matter concentrations at most sites throughout the city. These peaks in particulate load in the early hours of Chinese New Year do not appear to be closely related to meteorological parameters. However, in cities where fireworks appear to be better regulated, there are fewer sharp pollution peaks just after midnight, although lowered air quality can still be found in the outer parts of some cities, remote from regulatory pressures. A few cities seem to have been effective at reducing the impact of the celebrations on air quality, with Nanjing a recent example. An increasing focus on light displays and electric lanterns also seems to offer a sense of celebration with much reduced impacts on air quality.

Research Area(s)

  • China, Fireworks, Hong Kong, PM10, PM2.5, Taiwan

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