China is rapidly developing as evidenced by enhanced urbanization and industrialization and greatly increased energy consumption. However, these have brought Chinese cities a variety of urban air pollution problems in recent decades. During the 1970s, black smoke from stacks became the characteristic of Chinese industrial cities; in the 1980s, many southern cities began to suffer serious acid rain pollution; and recently, the air quality in large cities has deteriorated due to nitrous oxides (NO), carbon monoxide (CO), and photochemical smog, which are typical of vehicle pollution. Some cities now have a mixture of these. Urban air pollution influences both the health of citizens and the development of cities. To control air pollution and protect the atmospheric environment, the Chinese government has implemented a variety of programs. This paper first reviews the current status of air quality in Chinese cities, especially key cities, then describes the characteristics of some major urban air pollutants, including total suspended particles (TSP), respirable particles 10 microns or less in diameter (PM), very fine particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO), acid rain, NO and photochemical smog. Two specific topics, SO and acid rain control and vehicle emission control, are used to illustrate the actions that the government has taken and future plans. Finally, a case study of the Chinese capital, Beijing, is presented with a discussion of its main air pollution problems, recently implemented control measures and their effects, and future strategies for urban air quality improvement.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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