Understanding spatiotemporal variation of PM1 (mass concentrations of particles with aerodynamic diameter < 1 μm) is important due to its adverse effects on health, which is potentially more severe for its deeper penetrating capability into human bodies compared with larger particles. This study aimed to quantify the spatial and temporal distribution of PM1 across China as well as its ratio with PM2.5 (<2.5 μm) and relationships with meteorological parameters in order to deepen our knowledge of the drivers of air pollution in China. Ground-based monitoring PM1 and PM2.5 measurements, along with collocated meteorological data, were obtained from 96 stations in China for the period from November 2013 to December 2014. Generalized additive models were employed to examine the relationships between PM1 and meteorological parameters. We showed that PM1 concentrations were the lowest in summer and the highest in winter. Across China, the PM1/PM2.5 ratios ranged from 0.75–0.88, reaching higher levels in January and lower in August. For spatial distribution, higher PM1/PM2.5 ratios (>0.9) were observed in North-Eastern China, North China Plain, coastal areas of Eastern China and Sichuan Basin while lower ratios (<0.7) were present in remote areas in North-Western and Northern China (e.g., Xinjiang, Tibet and Inner Mongolia). Higher PM1/PM2.5 ratios were observed on heavily polluted days and lower ratios on clean days. The high PM1/PM2.5 ratios observed in China suggest that smaller particles, PM1 fraction, are key drivers of air pollution, and that they effectively account for the majority of PM2.5 concentrations. This emphasised the role of combustion process and secondary particle formation, the sources of PM1, and the significance of controlling them. Smaller particles, PM1 fraction, are key drivers of air pollution in China accounting for the majority of PM2.5 concentrations.
- Meteorological conditions
- PM/PM ratio