The combustion of solid fuels, including coal and biomass, is a main anthropogenic source of atmospheric particulate matter (PM). The hidden costs have been underestimated due to lack of consideration of the toxicity of PM. Here we report the unequal toxicity of inhalable PM emitted from energy use in the residential sector and coal-fired power plants (CFPPs). The incomplete burning of solid fuels in household stoves generates much higher concentrations of carbonaceous matter, resulting in more than one order of magnitude greater toxicity than that from CFPPs. When compared with CFPPs, the residential sector consumed only a tenth of solid fuels in mainland China in 2017, but it contributed about 200-fold higher of the population-weighted toxic potency-adjusted PM2.5 exposure risk. We suggest that PM2.5-related toxicity should be considered when making air pollution emission control strategies, and incomplete combustion sources should receive more policy attention to reduce exposure risks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Fuel Technology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology