Acute and chronic health impacts of PM2.5 in China and the influence of interannual meteorological variability

Yuanlin Wang, Oliver Wild*, Huansheng Chen, Meng Gao, Qizhong Wu, Yi Qi, Xueshun Chen, Zifa Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


High concentrations of PM2.5 in China have an adverse impact on human health and present a major problem for air quality control. Here we evaluate premature deaths attributable to chronic and acute exposure to ambient PM2.5 at different scales in China over 2013–2017 with an air quality model at 5 km resolution and integrated exposure-response methods. We estimate that 1,210,000 (95% Confidence Interval: 720,000–1,750,000) premature deaths annually are attributable to chronic exposure to PM2.5 pollution. Chongqing exhibits the largest chronic per capita mortality (1.4‰) among all provinces. A total of 116,000 (64,000–170,000) deaths annually are attributable to acute exposure during pollution episodes over the period, with Hubei province showing the highest acute per capita mortality (0.15‰). We also find that in urban areas premature deaths are 520,000 (320,000–760,000) due to chronic and 55,000 (3,000–81,000) due to acute exposure, respectively. At a provincial level, the annual mean PM2.5 concentration varies by ±20% due to interannual variability in meteorology, and PM2.5–attributable chronic mortality varies by ±8%, and by >±5% and ±1% at a national level. Meteorological variability shows larger impacts on interannual variations in acute risks than that in chronic exposure at both provincial (>±20%) and national (±4%) levels. These findings emphasize that tighter controls of PM2.5 and precursor emissions are urgently needed, particularly under unfavorable meteorological conditions in China.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117397
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Acute and chronic exposure
  • Air quality model
  • Exposure response functions
  • Health impacts
  • High resolution
  • Meteorological variability
  • Urban and rural


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