Characteristics of vertical profiles and sources of PM2.5, PM10and carbonaceous species in Beijing

C. Y. Chan, X. D. Xu, Yok Sheung Li, K. H. Wong, G. A. Ding, L. Y. Chan, X. H. Cheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


In August 2003 during the anticipated month of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, we simultaneously collected PM10and PM2.5samples at 8, 100, 200 and 325 m heights up a meteorological tower and in an urban and a suburban site in Beijing. The samples were analysed for organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) contents. Particulate matter (PM) and carbonaceous species pollution in the Beijing region were serious and widespread with 86% of PM2.5samples exceeding the daily National Ambient Air Quality Standard of the USA (65 μg m-3) and the overall daily average PM10concentrations of the three surface sites exceeding the Class II National Air Quality Standard of China (150 μg m-3). The maximum daily PM2.5and PM10concentrations reached 178.7 and 368.1 μg m-3, respectively, while those of OC and EC reached 22.2 and 9.1 μg m-3in PM2.5and 30.0 and 13.0 μg m-3in PM10, respectively. PM, especially PM2.5, OC and EC showed complex vertical distributions and distinct layered structures up the meteorological tower with elevated levels extending to the 100, 200 and 300 m heights. Meteorological evidence suggested that there exist fine atmospheric layers over urban Beijing. These layers were featured by strong temperature inversions close to the surface (<50 m) and more stable conditions aloft. They enhanced the accumulation of pollutants and probably caused the complex vertical distributions of PM and carbonaceous species over urban Beijing. The built-up of PM was accompanied by transport of industrial emissions from the southwest direction of the city. Emissions from road traffic and construction activities as well as secondary organic carbon (SOC) are important sources of PM. High OC/EC ratios (range of 1.8-5.1 for PM2.5and 2.0-4.3 for PM10) were found, especially in the higher levels of the meteorological tower suggesting there were substantial productions of SOC in summer Beijing. SOC is estimated to account for at least 33.8% and 28.1% of OC in PM2.5and PM10, respectively, with higher percentages at the higher levels of the tower.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5113-5124
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2005


  • Atmospheric stability
  • Emission source
  • Particulate matter
  • Urban air pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution

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