Real-time chemical characterization of atmospheric particulate matter in China: A review

Yong Jie Li, Yele Sun, Qi Zhang, Xue Li, Mei Li, Zhen Zhou, Chak K. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) pollution has become a major health threat accompanying the rapid economic development in China. For decades, filter-based offline chemical analyses have been the most widely adopted means to investigate PM and have provided much information for understanding this type of pollution in China. However, offline analyses have low time resolutions and the chemical information thus obtained fail to reflect the dynamic nature of the sources and the rapid processes leading to the severe PM pollution in China. In recent years, advances in real-time PM chemical characterization have created a new paradigm for PM studies in China. In this review, we summarize those advances, focusing on the most widely used mass spectrometric and ion chromatographic techniques. We describe the findings from those studies in terms of spatiotemporal variabilities, degree of neutralization and oxygenation, source apportionment, secondary formation, as well as collocated measurements of the chemical and physical (hygroscopic and optical) properties of PM. We also highlight the new insights gained from those findings and suggest future directions for further advancing our understanding of PM pollution in China via real-time chemical characterization.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-304
Number of pages35
JournalAtmospheric Environment
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

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Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-07-06


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