Aggravated air pollution and health burden due to traffic congestion in urban China

Peng Wang, Ruhan Zhang, Shida Sun, Meng Gao, Bo Zheng, Dan Zhang, Yanli Zhang*, Gregory R. Carmichael, Hongliang Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Vehicle emissions are regarded as a primary contributor to air pollution and related adverse health impacts. Heavy traffic congestion increases traffic flow and thus produces more O3 precursor emissions, leading to more adverse air quality issues. Although the development of a vehicle emission inventory has received great concern and continuous efforts, limitations still exist. For example, real-Time diurnal variations and increases in emission rates due to traffic congestion are not well understood. In this study, we developed a new temporal allocation approach in transportation emissions to investigate the impact on air quality and health burden due to traffic congestion in China in 2020. Both real-Time congestion-level data and emission correction factors were considered in the approach. Results show that traffic congestion aggravates air pollution and health burden across China, especially in the urban clusters such as the North China Plain and Sichuan Basin. In these regions, the average annual increases in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) could be up to 3.5 μgm-3 and 1.1 ppb, respectively. The excess PM2.5 and O3 attributed to the traffic congestion also induce an additional 20 000 and 5000 premature deaths in China, respectively. In major cities, the increased rate of premature mortality caused by traffic congestion may reach 17.5%. Therefore, more effective and comprehensive vehicle emission control policies or better planning of the road network should be established to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in China.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2983-2996
    Number of pages14
    JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2023

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Atmospheric Science


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