Contributions of open crop straw burning emissions to PM 2.5 concentrations in China
PM2.5 inventories have been developed in major Chinese cities to quantify the contributions from various sources based on annual emissions. This approach, however, could substantially underestimate the contribution from open straw burning during the harvest or other active burning periods. This study examines this issue by estimating monthly and annual straw-burning PM2.5 emissions in China and comparing with them with the corresponding emissions from other anthropogenic sources. Annually burned straw PM2.5 emissions during 1997~2013 for 31 China provinces were calculated based on crop and related burning information for 12 months based on satellite detection of agricultural burning. Annual emissions from other anthropogenic sources were collected from the literature and allocated to monthly values using air pollution index measurements. The results indicate that the annual PM2.5 emissions from open straw burning in China were 1.036mtons. The monthly PM2.5 emission ratios of straw burning to other anthropogenic sources during June, the harvest period for many regions, were several times larger than the annual ratios at national, regional, and province levels, suggesting that, in contrast to annual emissions that were used in the PM2.5 inventories in Chinese cities to assess the contributions from other sources, monthly emissions should be used to assess the contributions from straw burning during the harvest or other active burning periods. The larger contributions from straw burning shown in this study also suggest that substantial reduction of open field straw burning would dramatically improve air quality in many Chinese regions during the harvest or other active burning periods.