Individual metal-bearing particles in a regional haze caused by firecracker and firework emissions

Sci Total Environ. 2013 Jan 15;443:464-9. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.10.109. Epub 2012 Nov 30.


Intensive firecracker/firework displays during Chinese New Year (CNY) release fine particles and gaseous pollutants into the atmosphere, which may lead to serious air pollution. We monitored ambient PM(2.5) and black carbon (BC) concentrations at a regional background site in the Yellow River Delta region during the CNY in 2011. Our monitoring data and MOUDI images showed that there was a haze event during the CNY. Daily average PM(2.5) concentration reached 183 μg m(-3) during the CNY, which was six times higher than that before and after the CNY. Similarly, the black carbon (BC) concentrations were elevated during the CNY. In order to confirm whether the firecracker/firework related emission is the main source of the haze particles, we further analyzed the morphology and chemical composition of individual airborne particles collected before, during and after the CNY by using transmission electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (TEM/EDS). We found that sulfate and organic-rich particles were dominant in the atmosphere before and after the CNY. In contrast, K-rich sulfates and other metal (e.g., Ba-rich, Al-rich, Mg-rich, and Fe-rich) particles were much more abundant than ammoniated sulfate particles during the CNY. These data suggest that it was the aerosol particles from the firecracker/firework emissions that induced the regional haze episode during the CNY. In individual organic and K-rich particles, we often found more than two types of nano-metal particles. These metal-bearing particles also contained abundant S but not Cl. In contrast, fresh metal-bearing particles from firecrackers generated in the laboratory contained abundant Cl with minor amounts of S. This indicates that the firecracker/firework emissions during the CNY significantly changed the atmospheric transformation pathway of SO(2) to sulfate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Explosive Agents*
  • Metals / analysis*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Particle Size
  • Smoke / analysis*
  • Spectrometry, X-Ray Emission


  • Air Pollutants
  • Explosive Agents
  • Metals
  • Smoke