Source-Receptor Relationship Revealed by the Halted Traffic and Aggravated Haze in Beijing during the COVID-19 Lockdown.
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The COVID-19 outbreak greatly limited human activities and reduced primary emissions particularly from urban on-road vehicles but coincided with Beijing experiencing "pandemic haze," raising the public concerns about the effectiveness of imposed traffic policies to improve the air quality. This paper explores the relationship between local vehicle emissions and the winter haze in Beijing before and during the COVID-19 lockdown based on an integrated analysis framework, which combines a real-time on-road emission inventory, in situ air quality observations, and a localized numerical modeling system. We found that traffic emissions decreased substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic, but its imbalanced emission abatement of NOx (76%, 125.3 Mg/day) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs, 53%, 52.9 Mg/day) led to a significant rise of atmospheric oxidants in urban areas, resulting in a modest increase in secondary aerosols due to inadequate precursors, which still offset reduced primary emissions. Moreover, the enhanced oxidizing capacity in the surrounding regions greatly increased the secondary particles with relatively abundant precursors, which was transported into Beijing and mainly responsible for the aggravated haze pollution. We recommend that mitigation policies should focus on accelerating VOC emission reduction and synchronously controlling regional sources to release the benefits of local traffic emission control.