Ozone pollution in China: A review of concentrations, meteorological influences, chemical precursors, and effects

Tao Wang, Likun Xue, Peter Brimblecombe, Yun Fat Lam, Li Li, Li Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1261 Citations (Scopus)


� 2016 Elsevier B.V. High concentrations of ozone in urban and industrial regions worldwide have long been a major air quality issue. With the rapid increase in fossil fuel consumption in China over the past three decades, the emission of chemical precursors to ozone—nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds—has increased sharply, surpassing that of North America and Europe and raising concerns about worsening ozone pollution in China. Historically, research and control have prioritized acid rain, particulate matter, and more recently fine particulate matter (PM2.5). In contrast, less is known about ozone pollution, partly due to a lack of monitoring of atmospheric ozone and its precursors until recently. This review summarizes the main findings from published papers on the characteristics and sources and processes of ozone and ozone precursors in the boundary layer of urban and rural areas of China, including concentration levels, seasonal variation, meteorology conducive to photochemistry and pollution transport, key production and loss processes, ozone dependence on nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, and the effects of ozone on crops and human health. Ozone concentrations exceeding the ambient air quality standard by 100–200% have been observed in China's major urban centers such as Jing-Jin-Ji, the Yangtze River delta, and the Pearl River delta, and limited studies suggest harmful effect of ozone on human health and agricultural corps; key chemical precursors and meteorological conditions conductive to ozone pollution have been investigated, and inter-city/region transport of ozone is significant. Several recommendations are given for future research and policy development on ground-level ozone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1582-1596
Number of pages15
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • A review
  • Chemical precursors
  • Effect on crops and human health
  • Meteorological influences
  • Ozone pollution in China

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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