Special Issue on COVID-19 Aerosol Drivers, Impacts and Mitigation (VII)

Peter Brimblecombe1,2, Yonghang Lai This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.3 

1 Department of Marine Environment and Engineering, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung 80424, Taiwan
2 Aerosol Science Research Center, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung 80424, Taiwan
3 School of Energy and Environment, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong


Received: June 16, 2020
Revised: September 23, 2020
Accepted: September 24, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.06.0299  

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Cite this article:

Brimblecombe, P. and Lai, Y. (2020). Effect of Fireworks, Chinese New Year and the COVID-19 Lockdown on Air Pollution and Public Attitudes. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 2318–2331. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2020.06.0299


  • Fireworks cause PM peaks at New Year, but regulations push this to urban periphery.
  • Small peaks from celebratory fireworks just after lockdown ended.
  • Holiday decrease in NO2 evident for Wuhan but less so in Beijing.
  • Lockdown decreased NO2 and PM, with ozone enhancement spatially subtle.
  • Social media suggest citizen concern about long term improvement to air quality.


Concentrations of primary air pollutants are driven by emissions and weather patterns, which control their production and dispersion. The early months of the year see the celebratory use of fireworks, a week-long public holiday in China, but in 2020 overlapped in Hubei Province with lockdowns, some of > 70 days duration. The urban lockdowns enforced to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic give a chance to explore the effect of rapid changes in societal activities on air pollution, with a public willing to leave views on social media and show a continuing concern about the return of pollution problems after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Fireworks typically give rise to sharp peaks in PM2.5 concentrations, though the magnitude of these peaks in both Wuhan and Beijing has decreased under tighter regulation in recent years, along with general reductions in pollutant emissions. Firework smoke is now most evident in smaller outlying cities and towns. The holiday effect, a reduction in pollutant concentrations when normal work activities are curtailed, is only apparent for NO2 in the holiday week in Wuhan (2015–2020), but not Beijing. Lockdown in Wuhan was characterised by decreases in NO2, along with more subtle changes in particulate matter and other pollutants. Ozone noticeably increases as there is less NO available for titration, but such change may not be widespread geographically. Beijing, where restrictions were less stringent, showed some improvement in air quality, though this is more difficult to detect, even within the 5th Ring Road.

Keywords: Beijing; Holiday effect; Social media; Weekend effect; Wuhan.

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