Temporal variations in the air quality index and the impact of the COVID-19 event on air quality in Western China

Jiajia Zhang, Kangping Cui, Ya Fen Wang, Jhong Lin Wu, Wei Syun Huang, Shun Wan, Kaijie Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the AQI (air quality index) and atmospheric pollutants including PM2.5, PM10, CO, SO2, NO2 and O3 in Chongqing, Luzhou and Chengdu from 2017 to 2019. In addition, the impacts of the COVID-19 event on the air quality in the three cities in 2020 were compared and discussed. For the combined AQIs for the three cities, in spring, the daily AQIs ranged between 25 and 182 and averaged 72.1. In summer, the daily AQIs ranged between 24 and 206 and averaged 77.5. In autumn, the daily AQIs ranged between 22 and 170 and averaged 61.1, and in winter, the daily AQIs ranged between 28 and 375 and averaged 99.6. The distributions of the six AQI classes in spring were 3%, 94%, 3%, 0%, 0%, and 0%; in summer, they were 11%, 74%, 15%, 0%, 0% and 0%; in autumn, they were 29%, 70%, 1%, 0%, 0%, and 0%, and in winter, they were 1%, 52%, 44%, 3%, 0%, and 0%, respectively. The average AQIs, in order, were Chengdu (85.4) > Chongqing (73.8) > Luzhou (73.2). Both the highest AQIs and PM2.5 (as the major indicatory air pollutant) occurred mainly in the low temperature season (January, December, and February), while O3 was the main air pollutant in June and August when the weather was hot. In February 2020, during the epidemic prevention and control actions taken in response to COVID-19 for the three cities, the combined AQIs for the top five days with the highest AQIs in February 2020 was 79.4, which was 23.6% lower than that from 2017–2019 (AQI = 100.7), and the average concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, SO2, CO, and NO2 were 89.4 µg m–3, 106 µg m–3, 2.31 ppb, 0.72 ppm, and 12.3 ppb, respectively, and were 17.9%, 30.8%, 83.8%, 19.8%, and 62.1%, lower than those in February 2017–2019. However, the average O3 concentration (31.8 ppb) in February 2020 rather than decreasing, increased by 6.2%. This is because a lower NO2 concentration hindered the NO + O3 reaction and led to increase O3 concentration in the ambient air.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1552-1568
Number of pages17
JournalAerosol and Air Quality Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


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