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Atmospheric Lead Contents in Urban China

Apr. 18,2016

In order to control air pollution, China has been putting great emphasis on the prevention and control of lead contents. To a certain extent, the atmospheric lead contents have been effectively controlled, however, the situation of China’s atmospheric lead pollution is still very grim. Whether the atmospheric lead contents in urban China are high or not? In which cities are the contents higher? In which seasons, winter and spring or summer and autumn?

ZOU Tiansen from the State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk Assessment of Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences collected related Chinese and English research articles published after 2000. According to uniform criteria, 69 articles were selected for the further analysis, including 42 cities. Through detailed and systematic analysis, this study presents the current contents, distribution characteristics, and temporal trend of the atmospheric lead in China.

Based on the analysis, the research findings can be listed as follows.

Firstly, overall, the atmospheric lead contents in most cities in China are lower than the annual limit of the current Ambient Air Quality Standards in China, but significantly higher than the contents in Europe, North American, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau and other developed countries as well as other developed areas; meanwhile, the contents are lower than those in the South Africa, India and other countries. Therefore, the situation of China's atmospheric lead pollution is not optimistic which should be taken seriously.

Secondly, from the perspective of characteristics of spatial distribution, atmospheric lead contents are high in the Beijing-Tianjing-Tanshan economic zone, Circum-Bohai-Sea region, Xi’an in central China, as well as Pearl River Delta, and are low in western regions and eastern coastal cities. On the whole, atmospheric lead contents are high in developed areas, therefore, it’s necessary to control lead emissions from the industry.

Thirdly, from the perspective of seasonal variations, because it is rainy in summer in most cities in China, which is conductive to reduce the lead content, atmospheric lead contents are lower in summer and fall than those in winter and spring. But, great differences have been observed between coastal cities and inland cities: in most cities of northern China, coal-burning for heating in winter and spring makes lead contents higher in winter and spring than those in summer and fall; in coastal areas, summer and fall are peak seasons for tourism, which leads to large travel population and intensive traffic, so lead contents are higher in summer and fall.

Fourthly, from the perspective of the temporal variation, taking four cities, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Beijing as examples, atmospheric lead contents in urban regions of China have substantially decreased since 2003.

The research findings are published in the 1st issue of China Environmental Science, 2015. The bilingual version has been launched already.

Corresponding Author: ZOU Tiansen
CNKI Press Officer: ZHONG Ming
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