Final phase of biggest China-UK joint air pollution campaign set to launch in Beijing

Top UK and Chinese scientists are working together on the biggest-ever China-UK joint campaign in the megacity of Beijing to study air pollution and how it affects human health.

Air pollution experts from the University of Birmingham will join a group of scientists from the UK and China to start work in Beijing on the second and final measurement phase of a four-year research project.

The ‘Sources & emissions of air pollutants in Beijing (AIRPOLL-Beijing) project involves 60 experts from the UK and China using several containers of instruments to study air pollution sources and emissions in Beijing.

The AIRPOLL-Beijing project is funded as part of Atmospheric Pollution and Human Health (APHH) in a Chinese Megacity programme, jointly funded by the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). AIRPOLL-Beijing is jointly led by Academician Kebin He from Tsinghua University and Professor Roy Harrison from the University of Birmingham.

Information gathered in May and June, combined with data already collected in November 2016, will provide scientists with a greater understanding of air pollutants in Beijing – where the pollution is coming from and how much there is.

Professor Roy Harrison, lead UK principal investigator of AIRPOLL-Beijing, from the University of Birmingham, said: “High levels of air pollution pose a serious health risk to inhabitants of many Chinese cities. Beijing, in particular, suffers very high concentrations of airborne pollutants, leading to poor health and wellbeing for over 20 million people.

“Our measurement work in Beijing brings experts from across Britain and China to the city. The data we gather will underpin improvements in health and welfare for Beijing citizens and people across China – ultimately benefitting more than a billion people.”

Scientists are measuring air pollution in Beijing with a range of hi-tech equipment, including the Institute of Atmospheric Physics’ (IAP) 325-meter meteorological tower located in central Beijing – used to measure how pollution composition and levels change at different heights above the city.

Dr Zongbo Shi, who is informally coordinating the APHH programme, from the University of Birmingham’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, said: “We are analysing the huge datasets from the winter monitoring. This second and final campaign will allow us to better understand how pollutant emission, chemistry and meteorology interact to determine pollution levels during summer smogs and to disentangle their impacts on human health. These new results will be integrated to produce new modelling tools for governments to develop ways to control air pollution and for citizens to take individual actions to improve their day-to-day lives.”

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